Life at the end of the road

December 23, 2016

Three forward four aft!

Gosh, it’s exactly 36 hours since the winter solstice, so officially the days are getting longer. Not that we’ll actually see any difference for a while but it’s another of the year’s milestones by with. Almost 23:00 now on Thursday night and that’s the ferry cancelled for Friday so I’ll not be rushing off to work tomorrow. The Hallaig is firmly attached to Scotland with ‘Three forward, four aft, two springs and two breasts’ so she’ll not be moving anywhere until Saturday at the earliest. This may make my life a little easier but it’s not so great for those wanting to travel, or the poor ‘post lady’ who’s gonna have double mail on Saturday.

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This is the mountain of mail we had locked in the store on Wednesday Sad smile Fine by me but it does make the post lady crabbit Smile

Severely ‘pear-shaped’ from day one

With the shortest day behind me I was gripped with great enthusiasm so thought I’d tackle this job that I’d not been particularly looking forward to. Changing a stainless steel one way flap valve on one of the ships sprinkler systems. The Hallaig has three of them and more fire fighting and prevention systems than you can ‘shake a stick at’. This is a ‘wee job’ that ‘reared its head’ in September, the valve was passing a very small amount of water, which after time was building up pressure and setting off an alarm. Now the worst thing you can have on any alarm system is spurious alarms, cos pretty soon you get used to them and human nature being what it is. Well you get the picture, so at the time I tried to remove it, couldn’t and then managed to repair it in situ with a large hammer. Don’t ask but it did work, however, with the dry dock coming up in November my ‘back to back’ ordered another from the usually very efficient manufacturer of the system. Tyco Integrated Fire and Security are normally first class in both the service and replacement parts department but the failed sadly on this occasion.

To cut a very long story short, first the wrong one arrived and was promptly returned after much explanation of the problem. The right one was listed on the delivery note but the wrong one was sent, much apology followed with the promise of correct valve to be sent as soon as wrong one received. Many phone calls, emails, threats and months later the valve arrived on Tuesday so I set about fitting it on Wednesday.

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Not the easiest thing to access but with some minor surgery I managed to remove it only to discover the new one was a bit longer.

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Not a major issue methinks that a few alterations to the pipe work and I’d get it so I removed the fittings off the old one to transfer them to the new one.

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Bit of a problem though, the 1 3/4” BSP threads on the new one were not tapped deep enough causing the fitting to ‘gall’ . Galling is when the threads weld themselves together, usually due to poor machining but not always. The roughness caused by poor thread cutting can exasperate the issue but stainless is prone to it anyway. This being even more common in Indian and Chinese bolts, we had some Indian stainless M12 x 50 bolts and more than half of them locked up solid and had to be cut off!!!

Galling can often occur in screws and bolts, causing the threads to seize and tear free from either the fastener or the hole. In extreme cases, the bolt may lock up to the point where all turning force is used by the friction, which can lead to breakage of the fastener or the tool turning it. Threaded inserts of hardened steel are often used in metals like aluminium or stainless steel that can gall easily.

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This fitting was well and truly galled into the new valve and took some serious effort to remove. When I’d finally removed it

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both the valve and fitting were in poor shape so I decided to have a go at cleaning up the threads on the new fitting and then refit the old valve. It had after all been working OK since September and now it was out I could lap the flapper so it would seal even better.

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Sadly my efforts with a hacksaw blade and small triangular file proved fruitless so as a last resort I cut the top two threads off with a 1mm cutting disc and all was peachy. Had I one of these on the ferry,

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a ‘thread file’ I could have sorted it but mine were at home Sad smile I bought two of them over twenty years ago in a sale at Jansvans in Portree, they were £9.50 each and at the time it was money I could ill afford but they’ve ‘saved my ass’ many a time. Why only the other week I was using them on the threaded bar for the ‘ole Smile

Ten minutes lapping with some coarse and then fine grinding paste had the valve nicely lapped in.

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Then it was just a matter of putting it all back together, then topping up the water and nitrogen.

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Our own little carol service Smile

The weather may have been pretty grim on Thursday, at least in the frequent hail showers but that didn’t stop Raasay Primary School from spreading good cheer throughout the island. They had already been to the shop and sung in there for the staff and postie. Now when I went carol singing in the dim and distant past it was for money. The Raasay Primary School children dished out little presents after their recital Smile

After the shop they came down to the ferry and gave us all treat too, first up in the wheelhouse for the rest of the crew and then in the lounge for some customers and myself.


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Poor Santa was at the other end of the lounge and missed out Sad smile 

The rest of Thursday was taken up with trying to replace some hydraulic hoses and bunkering.

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I say ‘trying cos I’d planned to change four at lunchtime and only managed 1!!! The first one went easy enough but the one on the left was seriously tight and given my ‘track record’ with the sprinkler system I left it alone. Methinks that this is gonna be a Sunday job next year Smile

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3000lts of marine gasoil will normally do us the whole week and we’ve capacity for going on 10,800lts but best to keep her ‘topped up’. If for any reason we loose our ‘hybrid mode’ and the weather is bad, that 3000lts can easily be 5000.


Having cancelled the ferry yesterday for the whole of Friday we secured Hallaig with extra ropes had today off. The way the forecast was boarding the vessel would have been dangerous and pointless. All the planned maintenance and paperwork was up to date and the chances are we’d be working late on Christmas eve as Saturday would still be seeing Barbara’s tail end.

With the family all here yesterday and me not working I treated myself to a few glasses of vin rouge and had a lie in until 6:00am Smile It was pretty boodly wild then, probably what woke me, so I went out to check for damage. A rattling from the barn had me worried but that turned out to be just the doors and all was well.

There wasn’t any damage but there was certainly a lot of water so when it was light I went back out to clear the drains and feed the pigs.

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That done and with some breakfast inside me I accompanied the postie to work, not that she’d be doing anything but it would give me a chance to have a look at Hallaig.

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It was pretty scabby but she was sitting nicely on those four huge stern ropes, the power was on and no alarms sounding Smile Just as well really cos there was little chance of getting safely aboard

After the postie had finished work we headed up to the Orchard for some ivy to go with the rest of the locally sourced and made decorations.

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It’s never going to be a classic, dunno how old this remnant of the Soviet Union is but Lada’s quite often looked this bad after three or four years Smile 

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An atmospheric tree and a fine set of horns on the way home Smile

December 20, 2016

A long ‘short day’ :-(

Filed under: daily doings, New hybrid ferry — Tags: — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 11:48 pm

Ten minutes past eight in the evening now, the time I normally get in but I’ve been home for a couple of hours. It’s been a rather long/short day. Long cos I’ve been up since 4:00am and short because most of it has been tied firmly to Scotland alongside the Raasay pier. Barbara is on her way and I must have had some kind of premonition for I was awake at 3:30am with the old brain going like clockwork. Not sure if it was the threat of Barbara (the storm and not the wife)  or the lack of Tramadol,  but whatever it was I was wide awake. I’d stopped taking the stuff a few days ago after the odd paranoid episode, troubled sleep, constant tea drinking and jobbies like black logs. Too much information I know but just letting you know the stuff does have side effects Smile Right enough, it does work and provides great pain relief for my sciatica and back pain but I can only take it for so long, about three months seems to be the ‘going rate’. After that, the constant farting, burping and odd bout of ‘heebie jeebies’ tells me it’s time to stop, for a while at least Smile

What actually woke me up I’ll never know but it did have me thinking that I should use the extra hour or so to lash down the caravan that was now residing on the car park at ‘the end of the road’. I’d moved it there last week to make way for the ‘ole and whilst the old Thomson Glenelg had sat there happily through many a storm I didn’t want to risk our new one.

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So, at ‘stupid o clock’ this morning I was out in my p jays lashing the caravan to the wind turbine mast and hitching it to the front of the Landy.  At this time of day it was just plain windy, and amazingly for this time of year dry!!! In fact it was almost pleasant outside, quite starry and not particularly cold.

Worse than they said

By the time I actually left for work at 6:30 the wind turbine was churning out 3.7kW and it was far windier than forecast. By the time I got to work just before 7:00 it was quite obvious we were going nowhere, Hallaig was bouncing off the pier fenders and spray was breaking over the pier. The spray often breaks over the pier but not near low water!!! so I stayed put inside the car until the full crew arrived. No point two of us wrestling with the gangway in a gale of wind when ‘Big Finlay’ (AKA pensioners Santa) would be along shortly Smile 

Once aboard we did the usual ‘start up’ checks but sensibly decided to stay put. We had hoped to get the first sailing done but the skipper decided against it.

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Just as well for it was pretty soon blowing a good ‘Severe gale 9’ gusting to over 60knts which is officially a ‘Violent storm’. For once the ‘red sky in the morning, sailors warning’ proved to be true. Despite all the wind, it was in fact a very nice morning right up until 11:30 when the rain arrived. The forecast had said dry until 11:00 so it wasn’t too far out and we used it do bash on with some of the maintenance usually reserved for Sunday.

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With the squalls coming ‘thick and fast’ off the Cuillin it was almost pleasant on the car deck Smile

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So the ‘Big Fella’ and the ‘Man from Lismore’ got on with inspecting the forepeak Smile

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After, of course thoroughly ventilating the space and testing the atmosphere with a gas detector. I really cannot emphasize enough the danger of entering an ‘enclosed space’. Many lives have been lost by doing so without taking the correct precautions.

Me, I got on with the ‘auxiliary drive cooling pump’.

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The parts would be coming from Desmi in Denmark and unlikely to be here this year so I ‘improvised’. Using a felt pad on the grinder I gave the shaft of the pump a good buffing then rebuilt the pump.


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The pump was installed using all the old seals and gaskets with just a smear of Sean’s Hylomar  . My reasoning being that it would still be perfectly serviceable until the new shaft arrived, and sure enough it was just fine.

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Just like the hydraulic filter that the ‘Big Fella’ changed Smile it was ‘just fine’ Smile

This was ‘all well and good’ us getting all this maintenance done  but the weather wasn’t getting any better.

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By 15:30 though it had moderated sufficiently for us to sail to Sconser and back, but that was the only we sailing we did Sad smile Consequently I got home early enough to see my wife cooking the Christmas decorations!!!


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Well, at least the dug was impressed,

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Molly tried eating them off the tree!!

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