Life at the end of the road

February 2, 2020

Fourth time lucky :-)

Well, it has the makings of a decent day here, not that I can actually see much outdoors but it’s quiet, dry, mild yet still there is a starry sky. At this time of day and year, around 6:00am on the 2nd of February with the Plough, Orion, Venus and a multitude of other cosmic bodies visible it should be boodly freezing outdoors. Instead, it’s a balmy 3 degrees, last I heard both the Amazon and Australia were on fire, the ‘English man’ had decided to drag the Scotsman, Irishman and Welshman out of the pub cos he didn’t like it and the World seems to be ruled by blonde misogynistic, xenophobic buffoons Smile Still, it all looks rosy on Raasay this Sunday morn Smile 

There is an air of optimism here, or perhaps it’s just me, the days are getting longer, hens are laying again, snowdrops and daffodils abound and there’s a trickle of tourists about the place. Everywhere I go people ask me about SAS ‘Who Cares Who Wins’ so obviously I’m in a ‘minority of one’  in not giving a f**k or even watching it Smile Still, in the year of the Raasay Distillery’s inaugural malt

I’m sure the SAS wannabes will be great for the Islands economy Smile

Disjointed perhaps

Apologies cos I gave up on this after the muesli, it’s now 12 hours later and I’m kinda editing this so it may seem a little disjointed, so ‘rewind’ a day or two to ‘off grid’ matters. Well having fixed my Stream Engine hydro turbine and seen it belting out some 18kWh per day I thought I would go and check my Powerspout hydro turbine

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Driving by the old South Arnish sheep fank and through Rainey’s Wall on the way.

Then it was the monthly battery check which is more like a three monthly one these days. I used to be rather fastidious about this and did do it every month, logging temperatures, SG, SOC, voltage etc. However little changed so I now do it only slightly more often than my VAT returns and with just about as much enthusiasm Smile

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Having said that two of my cells had used very little water and were indicating a poor SG compared to the other 62 so I logged them, cranked up the voltage to over 60V to equalize them and hoped for the best Smile The rest of the bank seemed healthy enough but I’ll perhaps be moving back to a monthly regime to keep an eye on things Sad smile

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Old news now as the Creagan Beaga road has been open for the best part of a fortnight and I believe new crash barriers have been fitted by now. After this Eyre Plant moved on to repair the Fearns road and I’m sure it will have been done just as well Smile

The cost of efficiency Sad smile

Now Sonas has to be just about one of the most ‘green’ houses on the planet, it’s totally supplied and heated by renewable energy with the only thing that burns anything being my cooker.

The EPC is positively ‘interstellar’, the best that anyone has so far seen and whilst I got no utility bills or standing charges it does cost me a boodly fortune in MVHR filters. Apart from the insulation which is far in excess of even the latest building regs and the triple glazing the house is exceptionally air tight with an MVHR unit running 24/7 to keep the air fresh, clean, warm and dry.


This ‘Mechanical Heat Recovery and Ventilation system sucks warm air from the moister rooms in the house whilst bringing in cool fresh air into the living and sleeping areas. As it does this the cool air passes over a heat exchanger on the warmer outlet thus keeping the air at the same (almost) temp. Result, the air is constantly fresh with no draughts, midges or noise. The unit, a Genvex Energy 1 is exceedingly efficient but they recommend changing the filters every three months!!!! Which be fine if they were not so friggin expensive, by the time I’ve paid postage and VAT it’s around £50 a pop which equates to the best part of £200 PA, more than I spend on LPG for the cooker. Even buying them in bulk and changing them every six months it’s no cheap when you consider I heat the whole boodly house for next to nothing.

Energy Heat Recovery Ventilation Appliance - figures based at 300m3/h

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Luckily I have an alarm that tells me when to do it Smile I suppose it’s now almost in synch with my VAT return Smile Anyway, that’s the unit next to the wash baskets and despite our lovely clean fresh seaside air the filters do get quite dirty.

Subaru Forester steering

Dull reading for most I’m sure but I thought I’d share this wisdom and it may save someone a couple of hundred quid.

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The power steering on my wife’s car has been dodgy for a while when cold. First thing in a morning it’s been very stiff as if the hydraulic pump wasn’t working properly. The belt, which also drives the alternator snapped too, despite being the correct tension. As there were no leaks and plenty of fluid in the system I replaced the pump last year but to be honest, it still wasn’t quite right and needed a good ‘rev’ of the engine first thing in the morning to get it working. Now that wouldn’t be such a problem if my wife still lived here but she moved to the village six months ago and works shifts. Not great for neighbourly relations having to rec your engine up at before 6:00 am hey Smile 

More Googling revealed this on YouTube,

not having any pipe at the time I fitted new jubilee clips but seeing no sign of leaks I wasn’t convinced as the pipe did seem OK. Anyway, I did order some new 16mm hose and fitted it the other day. Despite the old hose looking perfect when I removed it, fitting a new one seems to have cured the problem Smile


That’s the old one and the replacement above it, even after careful examination today I couldn’t fault it but the new hose and fluid has most definitely sorted it Smile

The trailer project

After years of loosing stuff out of my Mate’s trailer due to it having no suspension and after tipping it dozens of times cos it’s only 900mm wide.

160412 020 Image result for "life at the end of the road" trailer tipping"

I decided to fix it by adding suspension and widening the axle track  sure it would mean more care when driving through gates but at least we’d not be loosing stuff on the way to the Schoolhouse.

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After removing an axle from a disused boat trailer and cutting it to make two separate ‘Indespension’ type units I set about removing the wheel arches. As well as the trailers propensity for discharging it’s cargo it also had these two arches poking into the bed which made it very awkward to shovel stuff out.

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That’s just about as far as I got on Friday, on Saturday I took the ‘Brochel Builders’ to Broadford to collect their vehicle from Skyefit . The Nissan Navarra pickup having had a clutch fitted there at very short notice. They went away happy and so did I having managed to ‘blag’ some steel for the trailer project off Eddie Smile

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Sadly, after just a few minutes welding my MIG welder died Sad smile to be honest I should have been using my arc one on such thick steel but the MIG is old and had been ‘acting up’, as it doesn’t get much use I thought it would do it good. After half an hour of bum welds and jamming wire I gave up and turned to the ‘stick welder’.

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So, today I cracked on with the trailer widening and suspension.

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Not only did I get the suspension and axle all ‘tacked’ into place I managed to get my MIG welder working of a fashion, though I think a new torch would go a long way towards sorting it properly.


I even gave it a good run down the Torran track to make sure it would fit before welding it fully Smile Sure I measured it first but ‘better safe than sorry’ hey.

As for ‘fourth time lucky’ well that would be the carp Chinese winches I’ve been buying!!!!!

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Originally I bought one of these 230v 100/250kg winches to pull the Searider into the shed last year. The first one didn’t work and I got a refund. The second one did work just fine but then after a few uses under load it started to struggle hauling the boat when full of fuel and diving gear. Sure it worked just fine when ‘doubled up’ with the supplied extra pulley but it was then slow and fiddly. Figuring I could easily find another home for it lifting deer or pig carcasses I bought the larger the 500W 250/500kg version and mounted that in place of the smaller one. The new blue piece of Chinese carp wouldn’t pull the line in, only let it out Sad smile What really did cheer me up though was my visit to Skyefit, Eddie had one too and his didn’t work either Smile well ‘you get what you pay for’ hey Smile

Boodly Hell, it’s almost midnight!!!! need to get back to HMS Warspite quick Smile

January 31, 2020

Unintended consequences :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, hydro, life off grid — Tags: , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 6:41 am

January by with already, or at least it will be by the end of the day, already the days are stretching, Raasay House will be open in a couple of weeks and the Easter Bunny has arrived early. Not the chocolate ones, they probably arrived shortly after  Christmas along with the Cadbury crème eggs. Nope, I’m talking about the real ones that have been absent from the North End and my dinner plate for years.

When I first arrived here, thirty years ago in May, Raasay was ‘awash’ with bunnies, I kept a rifle in the car (as did the postman) and rabbit was a regular addition to the weekly menu. Sure they came and went in cycles along with the  ‘maxy’ or myxomatosis a virulent disease introduced in the 50’s. The population would peak, the virus would get a hold within a year or two and dazed, disoriented, blind rabbits that would shortly die became commonplace. A ‘maxy’ infected rabbit is not a pleasant sight but inevitably the population would recover within a couple of years and rabbit pasta would be back on the menu.

I remember at least three outbreaks but that wasn’t what exterminated them I’m sure, no, I think that accolade goes to the explosion of mink and sea eagles, themselves, like the virus, both introduced by man. Me, I can live with the magnificent birds but then I don’t have and am not a fan of sheep. Unfortunately, in the absence of fish the   Iolaire sùil na grèine, the ‘eagle with the sunlit eye’ will and does take lambs Sad smile


And don’t for a minute think I took that picture Smile

They also seem to have driven out the resident and native golden eagle which is slightly smaller. I guess this is just one of the ‘unintended consequences’ of their reintroduction from Scandinavia in the seventies. Hailed as a great success at the time, they are now becoming a bit of a problem Sad smile As for the mink, well, not only have they decimated ground nesting birds, rabbits hens and ducks, they contribute ‘not a jot’ to the local economy. At least the white tailed sea eagle brings ‘twitchers’ and ‘puts bums’ on the local tourist boat seats Smile

Anyway, despite the ‘bird’ and the mink, the rabbit is back, perhaps ‘not in force’ but at least in ever growing numbers. I’m seeing more and more, even around Sonas and I’ve never seen one up here even when they were plentiful. Hopefully, rabbit will be back on the menu soon Smile

The Steam Engine

Well, yesterday ‘was a pure s**t of a day’, ferry disrupted rain torrential and dark until almost 9:00am, at least that’s what it felt like. Luckily I’ve a very nice shed and that’s where I spent most of the day, pottering about with my wee hydro turbine before it fined up in the late afternoon.

Actually, all I did was connect new conduit and wiring to the turbine, I spent most of the day looking for a ‘three pole rotary isolator’

SCL 20A 3 POLE IP65 ENCLOSED ROTARY ISOLATOR which I could have sworn I had. Unfortunately much of my day seems to be spent suffering such delusions and looking for things that I have just put down Smile Anyway, I gave up, ordered two online and figured I’d just have to manage without for now.

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So I loaded everything I thought I needed into the Honda and headed off into the woods, ‘turning off’ the water supply on the way.

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It’s a bit of a trek down there and at this time of year extremely muddy, not the best place to carry tools and a heavy turbine.

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It is however a beautiful and sheltered spot ideal for adventurous ‘wild swimming’ at high tide the sea comes up and sometimes over the shiny rock in the foreground.


The ‘shed’ I built ten or twelve years ago when I fitted the Stream Engine, prior to that I had a 200W Navitron Chinese turbine there.

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Mounted on an old galvanised bucket in the long grass and then covered up with an old polyform buoy it served me well for a couple of years. Proving that a turbine was viable until I replaced it with the current one mounted on a concrete base and covered with that ‘shed’ Carrying buckets of mixed concrete down there to cast the base was no easy task, don’t think I could do it now Smile

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I replaced the split PVC hose with an armoured rubber one but only had enough for the one (large jet),


not having an isolator I temporarily connected it with ‘chocolate blocks’ and tested it on the small jet.


A couple of amps at 60V giving me 120W at the battery bank. Not wanting to risk leaving the PVC hose connected I then turned on the large jet.


This gave me a respectable 13A, around 780W, which was better than before I’m sure. Normally it’s around 800W with both jets switched on but having a ‘pin hole’ in the PVC pipe on the small jet, I just left it on the one. That will give me a good extra 18.7kWh per day, time to switch the dehumidifier on in the caravan methinks Smile

Well, that’s just about it really, I collected my Wife’s Subaru from the village to look at the power steering, did a little shopping for the builders at Brochel, made a Lancashire hot pot for dinner and went to bed with a good book.

Sad, I know but HMS Warspite saw more action than any other ship of the Royal Navy, coming to an inglorious end in Mounts Bay Cornwall, I dived on her remains in the early nineties. Truth be know it’s herself and the Royal Navy’s move from coal to oil at the turn of the last century that’s responsible for much of the current chaos in the middle east Sad smile Another case of ‘unintended consequences’ I fear Smile

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