Life at the end of the road

January 5, 2017

I love the smell of napalm in the morning :-)

Two dry days in a row!!! boodly marvellous and I managed to get all my welding done in the dry. Sure enough, as predicted Wednesday was the good day that I was counting on to get some work done down the ‘ole.

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After pumping it out I was down there at first light as planned, but that wasn’t until almost 9:am in these parts with the much heavier cloud than predicted. I certainly wasn’t convinced that the rain would stay away, but much to my relief it did. What a difference it makes on a job like this being dry, using a welder, grinder, cutter and any amount of tools that don’t particularly like getting wet is so much easier. Despite this and even with the help of my son we still didn’t get all the welding finished.

My effort bears no resemblance whatsoever to the base recommended by Proven/Kingspan for their 15m tower but using what I had at hand I’m confident it’ll be far stronger than the specification. It’ll also be all my own work and have cost me a fraction of what I expecting to pay. When I planned this second turbine I’d always intended getting it done professionally. The last thing I wanted was a large lump of metal crashing through the roof of the house in a winter storm.

 The right tools for the job

I’ve always been one for buying tools, even before I lived somewhere were you just couldn’t borrow or hire them. Having the right tool for the job makes life so much easier and this job in particular has proved that to be the case. I purchased two specially to do it, a magnet drill and a die grinder.

   040117 002 Makita GD0600 240v die grinder 6mm collet 400w 3 year warranty straight grinder


The magnetic drill was just a cheap one as I figured that I would be using it that much after this task but already it has proved its worth on several other jobs. If you need a hole drilling in a piece of steel then forget the electric hand drill, this is the baby you need though I’m sure mine wasn’t much over £200. A quality one will set you back the best part of a grand but for what I need this is perfect. The Makita die grinder is something I’ve never used until we bought one for a job at work and since then I’ve used it more and more and in many circumstance where I’d have used a grinder in the past as it produces little heat, no sparks and can reach into the smallest ‘nook and crannies’.

Having got the ‘root’ carefully into position and level I tacked it into place using 16mm rebar and of course more of that 6” channel, which whilst being too distorted for most applications was perfect for this. To make slight adjustments I dropped three of the 1000mm long M30 studs down to the bedrock and screwed them up and down accordingly before I tacked more steel into place.

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I made up three ‘feet’ out of some old hydro pole ‘cross trees’  and used another awesome tool I’d purchased, some time ago. This Evolution ‘radial arm saw’ from Screwfix was bought for finishing jobs around the house, where it too proved invaluable. However it’s just as happy cutting  8mm steel as 75mm wood and made short work of the heavy galvanised steel.

Jacking up the ‘root’ got it almost perfectly level, it was just left to a heavy duty ‘ratchet strap’ to do the fine tuning.

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Once it perfectly level I got serious with the welder and more steel, at least I did until the power tripped Sad smile I’d forgotten to turn off the 3kW immersion in the house. Normally this never turned off, though in the summer I do lower the setting to 60 degrees from its normal ‘maxed out’ at 80 degrees. The solar hot water tubes seem to provide enough DHW in the summer for normal use. Even if I’m doing small welding jobs I leave it on, the SMA SI6.0H is rated at 4.6kW continuous, 6kW for 5 minutes and it can surge to 12kW for 30 seconds or something. I dunno what the 200Amp welder draws but it has to be more than 3kW cos it occasionally trips a breaker or blows a 13A fuse.

I guess wifey was having a shower and using the washing machine for the power went off after a while. It did however come back on after about 30 seconds so I went and switched the immersion off for the rest of the welding day. I have to say I was always a bit cautious about using a MIG or electric welder on an ‘off grid’ inverter. The truth is, until recently I’ve always used the generator when welding, having once read somewhere that repeatedly ‘striking an arc’ is bad for them. To be honest, I actually think it’s worse for the generator than the inverter, even at the high currents I’ve been using for this thick steel, (200Amps continuously) the inverter has never as much as dimmed a light.

Extra helpers

The wee pigs aren’t so ‘wee’ anymore and seem to really have ‘come on’ since they were turfed out of their muddy field. Strange because the gate was always left open for them to wander out on the hill if they wished. I think they too must have been well and truly ‘pi55ed off’ with the weather because they’re always out on the hill now.



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This will be them taking a wee nap out the back of the house,

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though as soon as we went for more steel they came to help my son chop up the girders Smile

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We just managed to get these three longer ones set in a triangle mounted through the 1000mm M30 studs.


Today it was another good day, better than yesterday in many ways as there was the odd break in the clouds but it was much colder and windier. The charts below suggest yesterday was windier but it certainly didn’t feel that way in the lower temperature.


Capture thurs

Wednesday’s west wind and relatively mild temperature.

 Capture thurs

First job was finally finishing off the welding, after which I started inserting my odd bits of reinforcing mesh.

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There’s smoke in them thar hills Smile

I love the smell of burning heather in the morning Smile

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It’s that time of year again Smile Probably a sign of climate change, don’t ever remember it being dry enough for the traditional ‘muir burn’ this early in January.

Can you see the piper

It wasn’t all work today, the wee dug and I went out for a wander too.

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Here’s Grian a Sgeir west of Fladda

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and the Pipers Rock above Torran, though I’ve never ever seen him.

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We also made a start on the shuttering but gave up when the light finally failed around 16:30. Looks like a bit of rain through the night so I’d better go and make sure everything is inside. Tomorrow actually looks a good day, not carp or pishing with rain for the third day in a row, but ‘I’ve got to see a man about a quad’ Smile

December 11, 2016

Back down the ‘ole :-)

Filed under: daily doings, food, life off grid, wind turbine — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:46 pm

Gonna be a little dull tonight peeps on account of me spending much of the day in the hole.

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After of course I’d pumped it out with the trusty Honda that is. I’m not very good at planning things, they just seem to happen and then organically evolve, this little project being quite typical of my haphazard approach to even a major project like this. I have had a change of plan, mainly in the interests of continuity and my lack of rebar.

Sure, I spent hours digging some out of the long grass yesterday and had great plans to wire it all up in a lighter version of Proven’s own spec.


However, I was a bit short of materiel and came up with a better plan which I’ll go into more detail about tomorrow as it’s a bit complexicated. Anyway this plan involved  good deal more cleaning out of the ‘ole and adding a few more threaded rods into Scotland.

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Truth is, with all these steel rods firmly bonded into the bedrock and at the very least 20 tons of concrete tied into it, then this mast aint going anywhere. Especially with a large steel frame made out of girders embedded into it too. In actual fact the method I’m using is probably more expensive than using rebar but it’s just that I’m actually using stuff I have ‘in stock’ so to speak. The HIT-RE500 resin is about £50 a pack and I’ve used three already but it’s stuff I had anyway and it has a limited shelf life. Again, steel beams are far more expensive than rebar but I have 8 x 5m ones left over from the burnt out chalet. OK, they’re a wee bit distorted by the intense heat but perfect for burying in concrete.


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So, after cleaning out the ‘ole and bonding three more studs in I set off to the chalet site to hack up some girders using a portable genny and grinder. First thing I was gonna do was make up a  square frame and see how that sits in me ‘ole.

Of course it was pishing with rain by this time and after getting it up to the barn and laying it out I had to make dinner Smile I was thinking it’s about time I started doing the odd Sunday roast specially when the postie was working. It’s all part of my new chilled and ‘laid back’ approach to life Smile 

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The frame is 6’ x 5’ in ‘old money’ and made from 6” x 5/16” channel so needs a good 200 amps and some thick rods to weld it with any success. Luckily this little 200A inverter/welder of my mates is just the job and even runs well off a regular 13A plug!!

Roast Arnish pork rolled leg

The leg of pork I roasted after rubbing with olive oil then stabbing it deeply prior to forcing sliced garlic cloves inside. I then sliced an apple and stuffed that under the netting it was rolled in. Then, after covering in tin foil I bunged it in the oven for an hour at Gas Mk6.

The spuds I always boil first for a few minutes prior to draining the pan into another pan to save the water. With the spuds dry I tip olive oil in the pan, replace the lid tightly then give it a good shake to ‘bruise’ them. They then go in the oven with the pork.

Gravy was half the spud water, a stick of celery, a carrot, half an onion all finely chopped then boiled to death with a little veggie stock and frequent ‘collections’ from the joint in the oven. A spud masher gave it all a good bashing and I thickened it a little with some veggie Bisto I found.

After an hour I took the tinfoil off the leg, stuck it back in the oven at the top and cranked it up a bit for half an hour. The spuds came out and sat atop the oven and under the tinfoil to keep warm. With ten minutes to go I chopped up half a dozen mushrooms into four and sliced an apple into the gravy and cooked that for a few minutes.

Apart from not having anything green to go with it I was most impressed, as was the wife, though she’s always impressed with my cooking. Not cos it’s any good, just cos she didn’t have to make it Smile

Back to the welding

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And apart from the spell at the chalet with the portable petrol generator it was all down with wind and hydro power Smile In days gone by I always used to fire up the generator to do any welding. I was always under the impression that arc welding was bad for inverters but it would certainly appear not to be the case with modern quality inverters like the Trace, Outback and the Sunny Island I’m using. If anything they appear to produce better welds than the generator, or perhaps I’ve improved with all the practice I’ve had lately on me Land Rover Smile

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