Life at the end of the road

July 8, 2018

A day of ‘many hats’ :-)

Almost 21:00 and that’s me just finished the third plate of herring pasta https://www.lifestylefood.com.au/recipes/17943/mediterraneanstyle-herring-linguine which was basically that recipe but with spaghetti.

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Can’t say that I’ve ever made it but I certainly enjoy eating it, this is one of ‘darling wife’s’ specialities and was the perfect end to a perfect day. A busy day right enough and one with a good variety of tasks, the first of which was to finish off servicing the neighbours wind turbine.

Once upon a time I’d have done this job in half a day but I’ve slowed down a lot these last couple of years and these days I spend half my time looking for things I’ve just put down! Then there are all the times I have to go back to my workshop to collect stuff I’ve forgot. Still, I got there in the end. Even though I’d done all the ‘donkey work’ on Thursday and only had to clean up the slip rings, fit a new brake rope, replace two sheared bolts and raise the turbine, it still took me all morning. And that was with one of my neighbours helping!!

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The turbine has been running without a brake now for well over a year and has safely seen off several storms with 100mph plus winds. The brake is only really used when lowering the turbine or if it shed a blade or spring or something that made it become unbalanced. The brake could then be applied to prevent further damage. Having said that the Proven/Kingspan turbines are one of the very few that actually have a mechanical brake that can actually stop a turbine in a storm and keep it stopped. Most others have an electrical brake that sorts out the alternator phases, less than ideal and not guaranteed to work. You cannot stop a fast spinning turbine with an electrical brake and if the turbine is stopped and the wind strong enough it will overcome the brake, overheat and melt the core or windings. I speak from experience Sad smile

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This will be what was left of my Cheap and cheerful Chinese jobby when it was braked in a storm Sad smile

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7:00am now, got distracted last night by a bottle of Dalwhinnie ‘Winters Gold’

Dalwhinnie Winter’s Gold Bottling Note

Dalwhinnie Winter’s Gold is a 2015 addition to the Highland distillery’s range inspired by the chilly climate up in the remote part of Scotland where their single malt Scotch whisky is distilled – as the label remarks, it was "Crafted by the Cold". It’s made only with spirit that has been distilled between October and March, and interestingly enough, they suggest that you try serving this expression frozen!

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Oak spice, pear skins, golden syrup and gristy malt. A touch of peach polish and chewy, sticky toffee. From the freezer it’s fruitier, more green apple, apple sauce, toffee apple, sultana, even redcurrant.

Palate: Very honeyed with warming peppery spices, Big Red cinnamon. From the freezer the honey is kept in check much more, as are the spices. Plenty of apple flesh and orange peel.

Finish: Allspice, nutmeg and smoky malt. From the freezer the finish is more about the spicy cinnamon and peppercorn heat that’s found on the palate at room temperature.

Overall: An assertive, spicy, honeyed Dalwhinnie with enough sweetness and character to be served straight from the freezer (as intended).

I dunno about all that but it was smooth and nice with just a couple of drops of Arnish water in it. I just don’t get all this guff they talk about whisky, wine and football. There seems to be a whole industry that specialize in carp. I’m sure the Dalwhinnie does all of the above but there’s never any mention by the Scotch aficionados about the chlorine taste of tap water Smile I guess you just get used to it, me I think it ruins a good cup of tea or malt.

The Proven Brake

Anyway, back to the wind turbine brake, first thing we had to do was feed the new rope down the tower and for the replacement I chose a heavy braided twine, like the stuff used in a trawl net. One of the problems with the brake rope is that it has a regular ‘lay’(twist) of three strands wound ‘with the sun’ clockwise or righthanded. Braided or multiplat rope has the strands wound and laid in both directions so is much less prone to kinks and twists. Feeding the new rope down the 7m long pole proved a bit of a challenge as it has to go through a 12mm hole in the top of the ‘slip ring’ mounting. This we managed to do using a length of wire rope, pushing it downwards through the slip rings then taping the green twine to it and pulling from the bottom. The twine is then attached to the brake lever at the top of the mast but it must be run through a length of bungee cord or even spring to keep it clear of the shaft when not in use. To operate the brake you wind the cord around the actuation lever at the bottom of the tower then pull the lever downwards. When the brake is released the cord must be removed from the lever and left to hang loose so as not to get twisted. Even so, it generally does Sad smile

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After refitting and sealing the cowlings and checking all the blade bolts (one had snapped and was replaced) the turbine was raised, bolted back down with new M20 bolts and the gin pole removed, job done Smile

They don’t make them like this anymore

The dry spell may just have ended last night with what must have been overnight rain judging by the puddles and wet grass but I doubt it will have done much to replenish the depleted water tanks next door. We were always a little conscious of being economical with water at times like this when we lived at ‘Number 3’ but now there are far more people staying there as Maya and Nikky have the house on Airbnb   https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/8188794 so need far more water than we ever did. Consequently they’ve been pumping ‘Scottish Water’s’ finest from IBC’s into their storage tanks.

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I had a dedicated pump just for doing this that has all the hall marks of something World War II. I can’t even remember where it came from or who gave me but the little 170W Stuart Turner pump just keeps on going. Having said that it required a little attention yesterday but I soon sorted that with some grease and WD40 Smile 

Panasonic NA-127VB5 washing machine

That sorted I donned my ‘domestic appliance’ engineers hat to try and sort out the washing machine. I gotta say this Panasonic machine has been trouble since day one and I’d never have another. It failed within a few days of getting it home and fair play to Panasonic they offered me a new one. Me being a fool said “ I don’t want a new one, I just want this one fixing”. It is such a PITA getting a washing machine up to Arnish that I couldn’t be bothered taking it back. Anyway an engineer came out and initially blamed it on our DIY electricity, this I told him in no uncertain terms was mince as our electricity is far more stable and reliable than the National Grid and that’s a fact. He then blamed it on my DIY plumbing. At this time the washing machine was in the shed as we were living in the caravan and to be fair to him, the drain was a bit high (or was it low). Anyway, he did some adjustments on the door catch and for the next few months it was fine. Once in the house it failed again and another engineer came out. Can’t remember what the problem was this time but it was OK for a year or two bar the odd error code relating to water pressure (despite us having almost 3bar). Recently it has started stopping mid cycle cos the machine thinks the door is open and the only cure is to restart the cycle and or sit there with your hand pressed on the door till it finishes Sad smile 

This was obviously a switch or adjustment fault so I pulled out the machine and had a look at the switch and catch.

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They both seemed fine so I carefully elongated the holes that retain the switch so it would allow the door catch to press the switch deeper so to speak. Well that seemed to work a treat as we have now done three full wash cycles without any problems.

If I didnae have a Landy it would be one of these

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Next it was the mechanics hat again to have a look at the trusty Nissan Patrol of next door’s  that had a broken catalytic converter. I gotta say, if I didn’t have a Land Rover then I’d probably have one of these, the Nissan Patrol is truly ‘built like a tank’. The catalytic converter had broken off at the bottom weld.

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It was a clean break and resting on the front anti roll bar so I reckoned that if I could remove the front track rod then I’d at least be able to get half of it welded.

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Typically on a 12 year old truck, the track rod end split pins were rusted in and had to be drilled out but that was soon done and the the track rod swung out of they way.

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This enabled me to get a good few dollops of ‘pigeon sh1t’ welding on at least half of it. I could ‘blame my tools’ and tell you the rods were damp (which they were) but the truth is my welding is dubious at the best of times Sad smile

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Once welded I made up a bracket to hold the pipe more rigidly then if it does snap then at least the pipe will stay in the cat and be perfectly serviceable until a new cat can be fitted (but not by me Smile)

Painters hat next

That done it was the time and weather to get on with painting an creosoting the hen shed. I had made a start on this on Friday night when I came back from Inverness. That was after I called in at the Raasay stores for some milk and caught up with my pal Peter

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who was also on small single seat transport Smile

It was a perfect evening for painting with just enough breeze to keep the midge away and reduce the temperature to comfortable levels as I had to swap the shorts and T shirt for dark blue overalls.

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The hens retiring to a ‘dangerous area’ whilst I got on with the job.

Well, I got most of it done

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and should now go and finish off.

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January 5, 2018

It’s all over now :-)

Well that’s it, a ‘dry’ January ahead and ‘the party is over’ so to speak. Just as well really cos me liver couldn’t cope with any more drink and we’ve all had waaay too much in  the way of rich food and treats. The last side of hot smoked salmon is just about to go into a creamy pasta and we officially stopped drinking yesterday, though me thinks that’ll just be a temporary thing once my figure returns Smile Smile Gonna take more than stopping drinking to get rid of my belly right enough.

A proper rest

After all the excess and activity on the diving front I’ve been taking easy this last couple of days which really is not like me. The weather has been good with light winds and hardly any rain but I’ve been staying in my bed until after 8:00 and just pottering about outside for an hour or two before coming inside and doing a little reading or net surfing.

On Thursday I managed a couple of wee jobs outside, dumping the old scallop shells on the shore for the crabs to clean them and collecting the cleaned ones for spreading around the house.

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Trust me, in few years time it will look lovely, it’s amazing how quickly they mount up, there’s only so many ashtrays you can have so this will be a good way of using them.

Also tried out my new cordless grinder that me mum bought me for Christmas.

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The exhaust had broken on the Benford PST3000 dumper (again) so I hacked it in bits and re routed it a different way, hoping it would be less prone to breaking.

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Also replaced the fuel return pipe which was looking decidedly dodgy, just about every injector ‘leak off’ pipe has split over a few weeks so I’ve replaced those previously. This pipe is made of the same stuff and is the same age so I figured it can’t be far behind.

Apart from taking ‘wee dug’ out for a gentle walk and making a beef curry I didn’t do a lot else as my ‘right hand man’ boat driver, dive partner and son wasn’t feeling great.

Friday

Even before I’d gone to bed on Thursday completely sober for the first time in ten days I’d decided to do a repeat performance today. It would be my son’s last day before going back to uni and I’d rather enjoyed Thursday, so at 8:30 I got up having had the best sleep since the full moon. I let out the hens then took ‘wee dug’ for her wee walk on a short leash. Now it’s really not uncommon to see golden or sea eagles daily pretty much anywhere on Raasay and the North End is probably better than anywhere. What is unusual though is to hear them, I cannot ever recall hearing one in all the years I’ve lived here. Well this morning (perhaps cos I had my hearing aids in) I heard a pair. They were right over head but very difficult to follow with the camera

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Much less vocal than the buzzard, the golden eagle can sometimes be heard making a ‘yelping’ call. The male and female may also perform aerial displays, where the male will make mock attacks at the female and the two will cartwheel downwards uttering their call.

And that http://sounds.bl.uk/environment/british-wildlife-recordings/022m-w1cdr0001387-0600v0 just about sums up what they were doing, which struck me as a little early for mating. Pretty impressive I’ll tell you Smile

I also solved a mystery from last night and on previous dark nights.

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https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/details/ships/shipid:182402/mmsi:219730000/imo:8412857/vessel:VESTLAND We’ve been seeing a large vessel off Manish Point from the living room windows late at night. The lights suggested a vessel over 50m with an aft wheelhouse but that row down the side made it look like windows lit up. Well it headed back north this morning having spent the night in Portree, the 63,3m long fish farm vessel Vestland. Strange how we’ve never seen it in daylight before.

Topping up the thermal store

It was whilst removing my boots in the ‘Bunker’ that I heard a noise from ‘Immersion 1’ we have 5 in the store and this one is connected right into the house grid rather than dump load circuits. It’s at the top of the 1500lt store for the DHW (domestic hot water) and I switch on most mornings till the store top reaches 80 degrees C. I used to leave it on 24/7 as the store is extremely well insulated. However this was causing my inverter to loose track of the battery SOC (state of charge) over a couple of weeks. The noise sounded just like a kettle starting to boil and had me puzzled for a while, then I figured it must need the pressure topping up in the store. The Akvaterm thermal store is designed to run at 3Bar.

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Trouble is, what I thought was the store pressure gauge for two years turns out to be the heat pump one!! The store does not appear to have one!! Nay problem methinks, I know my water pressure from the well above the house is 2Bar so I just topped it up with that.

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We have a pump at work with a gauge on so I can take it up the final 1Bar with that and add some more corrosion inhibitor at the same time. I shouldn’t have been surprised but it was interesting to hear the noise get quieter as the pressure rose. Funnily enough the addition of the cold water didn’t alter the temperature of the store so I guess it couldn’t have been much water.

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Wee dug loves the smell in there Smile so do I right enough, nothing quite like the smell of curing salamis and ham.

More dumper work

The starter switch packed up on the dumper about a month ago, mainly cos it lives outside and gets power washed regularly. So rather than spend £40 on another I got a couple of waterproof ‘button types’ from China.

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The magnetic drill proved more than a match for the 8mm steel bulkhead where I mounted it. A magnetic drill is one of those things that you don’t realize just how useful it is until you’ve had one.

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Next it was a few air cleaner mods, rather than spend £50 on a Benford air filter element I fitted a £9 Land Rover one which is actually better cos it’s longer. However, it does mean that the element sticks out of the housing making the dumper even noisier than it already is, well one of my wife’s modified plant pots sorted that Smile

Out for the winter

It would have been nice to ‘bash a few clams’ before my son went back to uni tomorrow but he’d much to do and still wasn’t feeling 100% so I went to collect the Searider from the sowf end.

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Nice big ebb round the Sgeir Chnapach, had many a productive day around there with my good mate Willy Eyre Smile

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Lashed the Searider to the trailer, put all the cylinders, weight belts and fuel tanks in the Landy and tootled home.

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Snow covered Torridon mountains, the solid rock ‘North End’ and Brochel Loch from the top of Croc an Uan (Hill of the lamb)

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That was it really, I flushed out the Tohatsu 90TLDI and my son did a couple of hours in the digger on the Torran track. Even when not firing on all cylinders you can do a lot of work with a Kubota 360 Smile

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