Life at the end of the road

February 5, 2020

Back at the coalface :-)

4:00am now and I’d much rather I was tucked up in bed than plonking away on here but it’s better than ‘working out’ Smile That’s what the rest of the ‘team’ will be doing shortly Smile I kid you not 50% of Hallaig’s crew will be charging around the car deck with dumbbells and skipping ropes shortly, or at least by the time I’ve finished typing this. The last thing that I heard as I departed ship last night was “see you down here at 6:00am”!!!!! Aye right Smile Methinks Sandy and Finlay been watching too much of ‘SAS who cares who wins’ https://www.channel4.com/programmes/sas-who-dares-wins   Smile Such is the ‘joy of youth’, me, I’ve got a good excuse for being up at ‘stupid o clock’, I can’t sleep! or at least I can’t stay in bed.

Not that I had that problem last night, my fist day back on shift ended with me curled up in bed whilst most people were watching the early evening soaps. It had been a busier day than usual. Sure, the first day back is always a mad rush trying to get all the stuff done that I’ve had a fortnight to finish but not actually done so yet.

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The trailer project being the first one, but that was after my neighbour banged on the door before daylight asking if I could look at their wind turbine. The already busy schedule just got a whole lot busier!

Proven wind turbine springs

After Monday night’s storm the neighbour had awoken to a ‘clicking’ from the wind turbine that had been working overtime through the night. I call it a Proven WT2500 cos that’s what it was called when I installed it 14 years ago. Since then the company has passed through several hands and names whilst still retaining the core workforce. SD Wind Energy being the latest incarnation https://sd-windenergy.com/ , before that it was Kingspan Environmental. The names may have changed but the turbines, at least the smaller ones have changed little. They are still the rugged well built piece of kit they were twenty years ago and their service and parts supply has improved no end since the Proven days.

Lowering the neighbour’s turbine had most certainly not been on the ‘to do list’ but it was Tuesday and had we not done it, it would have been a fortnight at least before it even got looked at. So, with it still being dark and breezy I got on with the trailer project until daylight and the wind abated. Unusually the forecast was right, by 9:00am the remnants of the previous day’s gale had passed us by and I ‘tracked’ Calum the Kubota round to ‘Number 3’ https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/8188794?s=3LQkEta2&source_impression_id=p3_1580878562_gdw9LTyYqfftvHxV my ‘happy wee home’ of 25 years.

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It was a lot easier than when I took the turbine there in 2005 Smile

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My good friend Willie Eyre ‘back in the day’ God rest his soul Smile it’s hard to think of Willie without smiling.

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Just as promised the wind ‘fell away’ to nothing revealing the broken spring and reluctantly I loaded up the Mule. I say reluctantly cos it’s not mine and the last thing I did on Monday was wash and clean it Smile

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It’s a lovely spot up there overlooking the sea and ruins of the houses in the right hand photo that was taken circa 1885.

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My ‘apprentice’ soon had it lowered and I just happened to have a spare set of springs in my shed, by 11:00am the turbine was back up and I had time to tidy up before heading for the 12:15 ferry. The ‘to do’ list unfinished Sad smile

I had planned to do some more work on one of the Brochel generators, I say one cos I’ve four to choose from and there’s generally only one working Smile

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Still, at least the SDMO 6kW was working when I left it on Monday Smile

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Wee dug and I even found time for a walk on the beach by the castle that was once ‘seat’ of the Raasay Macleods.

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That’ll be the house not the castle Smile

Sunshine on Sconser

So, I got myself to Portree and filled up with essential breakfast kit. The two ‘young fellas’ will be needing a good breakfast after their 6:00am workout Smile

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The avocado, egg, and chorizo on toast should do the trick after they’ve done that lot hey.

After trawling around the Co-op I arrived back on Hallaig at 15:00 in time to let my ‘back to back’ away for a well earned rest. The first thing I noticed was SUNSHINE!!!

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Sconser doesn’t ‘do’ sunshine in the winter, spring must be here Smile OK, it wasn’t actually on the village yet but it was bathing Hallaig at the pier so it cannot be far away.

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’ https://www.channel4.com/programmes/sas-who-dares-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 https://raasaydistillery.com/product/raasay-single-malt-inaugural-release-70cl/

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  https://www.powerspout.com/

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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.

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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.

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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 1http://www.genvex.co.uk/genvexmp1.asp?pid=3433&cid=GENVEXmp1 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

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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.

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I decided to fix it by adding suspension and widening the axle track https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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 https://www.isleofskyetyres.co.uk/ . 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.

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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

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