Life at the end of the road

February 17, 2022

Dudley’s here :-)

Well it’s 6:00AM and the wind has been steadily freshening throughout the night, not that I heard it, half a bottle of red wine and triple glazing had me soundly snoring till just recently. However the wind is coming straight off the sea from the north west, my batteries are fully charged and a look at my weather station


tells me all I need to know.

Well I’ve just been outside to check everything is where it should be and it certainly looks like a day to be in the shed. At least it does when I finally get fired up, breaking my number one rule of ‘never drinking alone’ last night has left me with a sore head and sapped my enthusiasm Sad smile Still, it was busy day yesterday, I got soaked to the skin and felt I’d earned a wee glass. Only trouble being my glass holds half a bottle and I’ve not had a drink in a while. Serves me right hey Smile

Hydro woes

Wednesday started off just peachy

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a full moon over the Storr and a few hinds grazing nearby.

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Being a Wednesday Bonzo and I took the wheelie bins to the end of the drive for the binmen and then went for our morning walk. The bin lorry only comes up when I ask it, which is normally once every month or two. I see little point on dragging a ten ton truck up the already knackered road every week just for a bag or two of rubbish. I take my recycling down when I’m working and have plenty of wheelie bins for storage of everything else. Though I gotta say that the one and only thing I miss about not having a stove in the house is no longer having an incinerator for prawn shells and the like. The bin can get a bit whiffy in the summer if I don’t deposit my fish guts back in the sea Smile

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Walking along the track to Calum’s old house it was good to see and hear my old croft and house being worked at last. The rushes cut and the sound of cockerels being music to my ears. 

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Once the walk was over I loaded up the Honda with my 2” water pump to get my hydro turbine primed. Then it was down to the Powerspout itself to clear a blockage in one of the jets.

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The first image shows nothing coming out of the top left hand jet, the second one after I had removed a small stone.

A medieval toilet Smile

Next it was along to Brochel to see how the battery bank was doing there. The poor sunlight that had seen the buoys at Sconser fail being a little concerning.

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However, all was well with the batteries at 95% but I set the Victron controller to run the generator for an hour and went for a wander round the castle.

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And here’s me worried about my bins getting smelly, this is where you went for a dump ‘back in the day’ Smile

Harris hydro turbine

After seeing all was well at Brochel I went over to Torran to check up on the ‘off grid’ system there, where I discovered they too had a hydro issue. The Harris turbine that supplies this property along with 1100W of solar PV had stopped working Sad smile

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It has three different sized jets and the smallest (the one in use) was blocked.

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My diagnosis of a fish or newt causing the trouble was confirmed when I took the turbine off its base to investigate. I figured it wasn’t a stone like what had blocked mine cos of the smell, it was pretty whiffy but I soon had it back up and running.


Mr Lister

As with the system at Brochel I gave the generator a run whilst I was at it. The back up for this property being a Lister ST2 7kW Startomatic.


Leaving Mr Lister running I went home for lunch around 14:00 when it just started raining. An hour later the whole of the north end was awash Surprised smile

I only fried up some spuds and eggs but when I came back out of the house my generator shed was flooded Surprised smile

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Water was pouring off the hill due to some blocked pipes in the burn to the side of my croft. The pipes being choked with windswept dead couch grass.


Luckily I soon sorted the drains out but my trip to Torran to turn off Mr Lister was rather wet Sad smile

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January 22, 2022

Pigging the penstock

A quick look at yesterday’s forecast was telling me that it would be the last day for some considerable while for me to go and collect my pipe from the south end.


The 40m length of 90mm MDPE feed blower pipe that I’d salvaged last week, along with another 40m length I’d swapped with a friend was gonna save me lot of work joining smaller lengths together. Though Ross and I had already started doing this with the shorter sections we’d towed to the Schoolhouse previously. 80m with just one joint sounded much more appealing than making it up from many 5 or 6m lengths that we already had Smile 


All I had to do was get it home, something I’ve done in the past by just dragging the stuff behind the Land Rover up the road! Sadly due to the pipes location this was out of the question, it would have to past too many parked cars and round a couple of tight bends. So it would have to go by sea and a brief respite in the frequent Atlantic blasts yesterday seemed like an opportunity not to be missed.

Though in truth it was probably just an excuse for me not to do may tax return Smile So, after feeding the pigs and walking the dogs I went down to Port Arnish on the Honda with Bonzo.


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With the Pioner in it’s winter berth and the tide not particularly high it was quite an effort but the boats unique plastic hull means it slides easily over rocks and pebbles into the sea.


The plastic hull may make this the ideal craft for bouncing along the shore but it’s not very dog friendly. The boats interior being just as hard and slippery for Bonzo’s feet and despite me taking off my coat so he could sit on that, by the time we got to Manish Island it was obvious that Bonzo was not a ‘sea dog’ so we returned to base and abandoned any thoughts of going 6 miles by boat Sad smile

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All I had to then was drag the Pioner back up the shore with the old winch installed by Calum Macleod many years ago.

Pipeline ‘pigging’

I may have been deterred by wee Bonzo from my boating plan but that didn’t mean I had to spend the rest of the day doing tax and VAT returns. Nosiree  I’m much more resourceful than that. After a ‘second breakfast’ I opted to ‘pig’ my penstock, or at least the easy one. This is the one next to the road with only 40m of head and 250m of pipe so it would give me some experience before attempting the much longer and higher ones.

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First thing was to turn off the water supply by redirecting the inlet pipe and after cleaning out the header tank removing the filter to get ready for launching the ‘pig’. These specially made ‘pigs’ can be purchased from where I bought mine from or in West Kilbride.

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Then down to the turbine house in the secret cove to turn off the pipe to let the tank fill again.

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Then back up to the header tank to launch the pig. The foam pig is pushed into the pipe a foot or two with a piece of water pipe just to get it started. The pig has a none permeable membrane on the back end to help seal it. That done it was down to the turbine end to open the valve

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Which at around 25mm is considerably smaller than the diameter of the foam pig


so when the water stopped I knew the pig had arrived Smile

With the water flow stopped by the pig I returned to the header tank, stuffed another pig inside it, put the inlet pipe back on the tank and returned to the turbine house.

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I got very wet indeed Smile However the job was 100% successful and with darkness approaching I returned home to remove pig number 1 form the ball valve.


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A much easier task than I was expecting Smile


Pig number 1 was pretty much butchered but Pig number 2 will do another turn Winking smile


Then it was time to fire up the generator and get it good and hot so I could drain the oil prior to servicing it, anything other than the tax return Smile

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