Life at the end of the road

September 2, 2020

An abortive fishing trip :-)

Filed under: daily doings, How I, life off grid, listers — Tags: , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:46 pm

So much for staying in bed and taking it easy, 8:00am and already I’ve pulled a tourist out of a boodly ditch. Still, I did manage to do it without bending down or straining in anyway, though I was greatly pi553d off. Having got the ‘knock on the door’ at 21:00 last night when I was in bed engrossed in the sinking of U-550 off the east coast of America. Then followed a poor night’s sleep worrying about said tourist but it all worked out just fine in the end. COVID making this exceptionally late in the year for notching up the first ‘halfwit in a ditch’ of the year. Actually, now I come to think of it, it’s not the first, that prize goes to a painter and decorator in a Peugeot van but I don’t hold him in the ‘halfwit’ category, at least not in his driving Smile

There then followed a period of just pottering about and seeing how my replacement batteries were doing. My Mate having kindly done the lifting for me yesterday whilst I supervised.

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Once he’d dropped the 3 x 53kg 6V batteries into place I carefully reconnected them. It’s not a ‘two minute job’ by any means, the entire house and system needs shutdown, all the sensors and cables for the charge controllers and DC cabling for hydro and solar inputs. Once that was all back in place I set the four controllers to ‘Equalize’ which basically overcharges the batteries to ‘balance them’. You can see ‘controller 1 at 60.3V

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and the replacement now at a respectable 7.1V. By the time I got too them this morning they were back down to a little less than the other 13 batteries but I guess that’s to be expected. I’m sure it’ll take a few days to properly equalize and I can tell from my meter in the kitchen that the whole bank is now much healthier than it was.

BIG DC isolators

Yesterday whilst awaiting the arrival of my ‘muscle’ sorry Mate I made up some 400A DC switches to isolate my battery banks. These are something that pure expense has stopped me from fitting to any battery bank I’ve ever installed, relying instead on a simple large fuse with knurled nuts. Reliable DC Isolators of this kinda size are rare as rocking horse pooh and about as expensive as gold! Sure you can get so called ‘marine’ ones for less than £15 but in my experience these things are seldom up to the continuous high currents found in ‘off grid systems. Anyway the hybrid ferries use gigantic motorised ones rated at 400A and these need replacing just about on an annual basis because the motorised gearbox fails.

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ABB will not supply the parts needed to repair them so we change them out at around £900 each when they break (there are four!!!!). Me, I keep the old ones, pull them apart, bin the motor and gearbox, remove one of the three poles, fit a handle and use them as fantastic isolators for the largest of battery banks Smile Two of the broken three pole switches making three excellent neat DC ones with lovely big tinned copper contacts Smile

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After all, if they can safely disconnect this bank, they can do mine at home hey Smile

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As well as pottering about in the shed I also did some fruitless mushroom hunting, the planned risotto getting demoted to a chicken curry, you gotta have shrooms in a risotto hey Smile Still ‘wee dug’ and I did have a lovely stroll through the Arnish birch wood soaking up the summer smells and finding long forgotten ruins.

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It’s a truly magical place down there and one of the best and most private of place for wild swimming,

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which I really must get back into once this rib repairs Smile

Back to today

My ‘muscle’ turned up again this morning and we both took the Mule over to Brochel, ostensibly to do some fishing down a chimney (all will become clear in a later episode Smile ) but it was too windy so we went for a stroll to the Brochel Loch instead, after first leaving our ladder and fishing rod by the house Smile

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Abandoning the Mule at the start of ‘Calum’s Road’ we strolled west towards  the waterside. The heady scent of heather and bog myrtle infusing ‘heavens breath’  . Yup, despite the near gale force southerly wind the autumnal scent of heather and crushed myrtle was unmistakable on the nose Smile

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There was more, I started cleaning out the inside of the ‘Old Girl’ as a precursor to doing some wiring to make an attempt at starting the 200TDI. I also set about slightly repositioning a fuel filter on my Lister HR2 generator and replacing a crushed diesel pipe.

January 27, 2020

Today is the day, perhaps :-)

Filed under: daily doings, hydro, life off grid, listers, weather — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 6:56 am

4:30 in the morning, wee dug is still in bed having taken a shine to my new quilt cover and bedding.

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Me, I just love Gustav Klimt’s work, Molly, well I think she’s more enamoured with the brushed cotton Smile Anyway, that’s me the best part of a full week into my ‘fortnight off’ without ever having turned my attention to the blog. Truth is I’ve been far too busy avoiding doing my VAT return and counting down the days to the 31st of January and the ‘self assessment’ deadline for HMRC.

I really am thinking that ‘today is the day’ but then I’ve been saying that since Friday. Sure I did make a serious start on Saturday by tidying up my office but got distracted by all the unopened mail and some treasures that had been lying in there for three months since I did my last VAT return. If they awarded Olympic medals for sidestepping paperwork I’s be up there with the best. However, I really must ‘bite the bullet’ today, well tomorrow or the day after at the latest Smile

A busy fortnight

Like I said, I’m well into my first week off, having left a hectic fortnight ‘before the mast’ behind me with storm Brendan dealing out chaos and destruction in his wake. The good ship Hallaig missed more than its fair share of sailings and power was off to a third of the village for two days.

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Brendan passed through having arrived with plenty of warning but the 55knot blast above that came unannounced a day or two later didn’t Sad smile

This one caught everyone unaware and left more than a few people stranded at Sconser and on Raasay until it abated later in the day.

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Brendan had torn through the village bringing disruption but another of his ‘followers’ brought a tree and lamp post down outside the shop around 22:00, by the time I headed to work at 6:30 it had already been cleared. Well someone had been working very late or early at least cos Ross James posted the image below on Facecloth at 22:30!!!

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Me, I arrived at work early having left home early just in case other trees had come down, just as well cos Hallaig was also in a bit of a state Sad smile

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Total blackness greeted me aboard with all UPS systems completely depleted and pages of alarms active once I started to restore power.

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Still, I managed to restore everything, well almost Smile and we did sail on time.

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Molly and I going to check on Peter and Bonzo at lunchtime just to make sure they were OK, having a cup of tea and helping finish his birthday cake in the process Smile

Still on the ‘to do’ list

Just realized whilst wading through the last fortnight’s pictures that one of my hydro turbines packed in last week.

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The 800w ‘Stream Engine’ barely producing any power. A quick look after work revealed plenty of water going down the penstock but a meter ‘across the phases’ before the transformer indicated next to no voltage. With plenty of wind and the other hydro ‘pumping away’ I’ve certainly had plenty of power to heat and light the house but it does give me another good excuse to postpone the paperwork Smile

The first one being an MOT on the Subaru, which I’m reluctant to admit failed Sad smile and that was after me checking it over and managing to miss a defective offside front ball joint and nearside front wheel bearing Sad smile

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Both of which turned into a bit of an epic, the ball joint pinch bolt shearing on the nearside requiring me to drill it out. Must be a Subaru issue cos I had to do the same on the offside a few years ago.

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The offside lower ball joint all came undone easily enough but the old joint steadfastly refused to come out of the carrier. A ‘slide hammer’ would have drawn it out easily enough but I’ve not got one so had to improvise by attaching some Mole grips to the joint and belting them with a lump hammer. Didn’t do my grips much good but the joint did come out and I’ve now ordered a Chinese slide hammer Smile

More boodly generators

Apart from that I’ve been somewhat involved with moving and repairing generators.

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A poorly installed Stephill 6kVA a couple of miles down the road being ‘work in progress’ and a trusty Lister SR2 with broken wiring at Torran.

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These Lister generators need bolting solidly to at least a ton of concrete, preferably two. No rubber mounts, no railway sleepers, nothing at all that is flexible. Mount them solid like that and they will give decades of trouble free service. Mount them on anything else and they vibrate, work harden the copper wiring, which then breaks and stops em working, which is exactly what happened to this one. One of the wires to the slip rings had snapped but I managed to repair it OK (until the next time) Smile

Right, that’s it, almost 6:45 now and I’ve got things to do, snow is forecast for the whole day but I somehow doubt it so we’ll see what I manage to achieve today. Will it be the overdue paperwork, broken hydro turbine, generator repositioning, car MOT or what Smile

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