Life at the end of the road

February 4, 2017

A lean mix :-)

Filed under: daily doings, Land Rover, pigs, wind turbine — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:06 pm

Saturday night here at ‘the end of the road’ and I’m feeling suitably contented after a productive day, a fish pie and the promise of a glass or two of red later. It won’t be my first this week but it will only be my second. The week has been a rather busy one and there’s been little point in having a glass or two. Firstly I’d have fallen asleep after a mouthful and secondly we’ve had no wine in the house Smile 

The ‘ole

As you’ve probably guessed most of my week, indeed my fortnight off has been spent filling in the ‘ole with concrete. This will be the base for my new wind turbine which I planned would be 7 or 8 cubic meters and ended up nearly double that. Anyway my days since last posting have been an endless cycle of getting up early and getting ready for mixing which usually commenced around 8:00am. The trailer with its 2 tons of ready mixed aggregate being parked conveniently close to the mixer the night before.

I’ve mixed 4 trailer loads plus 3 tons I already had with just over a ton of cement so I guess that’s about a 10:1 mix. A bit lean for anything structural but there will be just as much of a 35 Newton mix going over the top of it.  I’m sure it’ll be just fine with 25 or 30 tons of concrete  in total, plus around a ton of steel directly bolted to Scotland.

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By far the hardest part of the job has been getting it to flow into all the ‘nooks and crannies’ and getting the air out of it. I really should have bought a vibrating poker for this rather than just borrowing one for the big pour on Monday. I’ve seen them on eBay for £50 and it would have been money well spent I guess. I severely doubt that this will be my last big concrete project.

The actual mixing has been pretty easy really with the trailer being the same height as the mixer there’s been little in the way of bending involved.

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This is as far as I got on Thursday night, I mixed one more load on Friday and took a final trip to Sconser quarry for doing one last mix.

Ozzy and Django

All this reversing with over three tons on the back of the ‘Old Girl’ convinced me that it was about time I replaced the gearbox on her. My Landy is of 1986 vintage and fitted with the rather lame LT77 5 speed gearbox, more suited to a high power saloon car than an abused diesel truck. The LT77 has many faults, sloppy gear change, premature main shaft wear and most annoyingly, jumping out of reverse gear. The latter being caused by the teeth on the lay shaft, reverse gear and idler wearing out. When I bought her in 2001 she had the same fault and I fitted a recon box then. Well sixteen years of hard graft later it needs another.

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I found this ex military reconditioned one on eBlag from a chap called Darren who runs Jedi 4×4 in Waterfoot, near where I used to live. It came in the strongest case I’ve ever seen and was bolted to a steel frame that was bolted via rubber mounts to the wooden crate!!! I guess it must have been designed for dropping by parachute or something cos the package came in at 130kg of which less than half is the gearbox!! It was dated 2010 right enough but it’s the latest LT77 suffix, G which has bigger bearings and wider teeth on the reverse gears. I also got a drivers door off him and have to say that Darren had packed that almost as well as the army had their gearbox×4 .

It’s actually been jumping out of reverse for over a year so it’s a job that is long overdue and when I finally do get around to doing it I may well fit a Discovery transfer box. The Disco LT230 transfer box has a higher high ratio than the Defender, probably not much use to me really with those huge 33×12.50×15 tyres I use but I just happen to have one. The box I have came from the vehicle I got the engine from.

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Having driven said Disco to Arnish I know the box is good and quiet, unlike mine which has a rusty set of gears in it Smile

Anyways, enough of this Landy ‘anorak’ stuff, back to today and ‘two little piggy’s’ from Auchtertyre.


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My son and I caught the 8:55 ferry and went to collect a couple of fine Large Black/Saddleback cross boars. We could have taken gilts but went for a couple of boars instead, for some reason most folk want gilts! This is usually people that are under the misapprehension that boars are aggressive and can suffer from something called ‘boar taint’ . Supposedly if you don’t castrate boars or keep them for longer than 22 weeks the meat becomes tainted by their hormones. Well, that may well be true of commercial breeds kept indoors but we’ve never experienced it in all the years we’ve kept pigs. In our experience the opposite is true, boars are less trouble and put on weight quicker, as for keeping them longer than six months, well we ate one that was five years old and he was delicious Smile

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Django and Ozzy were as ‘good as gold’ and soon settled into their new home for the next day or two.


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The weather was so boodly awful today that we put them in the hen house. We’ll keep them in there for a day or so before letting them out into the wind turbine field. Once the other two are away at the end of the month we’ll  let them out on the hill.

January 2, 2017

Nine years on!

Almost midnight now on the first of January so still officially New Years Day and that’s me not long out of bed! Methinks the old body clock has been a little confused, probably pickled  in alcohol if the truth be known. It was a ‘late one’ last night and I never really faced the day until 10:30 this morning, when I awoke minus wife and plus dog!!

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Dunno what happened there right enough, I do have a vague recollection of the post lady taking me home last night. Don’t recall going to bed but me suspects I must have been snoring like a pig before I hit the sheets. Methinks the wife must have left the bedroom door open whilst making a hasty retreat to a quieter bed at the other end of the house. The ‘wee dug’ is obviously not averse to my nocturnal growling Smile

The day that I eventually saw around 10:30 this morning though was a ‘pure peach’ by recent standards with some proper sunshine and no rain that I recall. My weather station says otherwise but it’s hardly surprising, the nick I was (am) in. Hogmanay had been a very long day indeed Smile

The poorly digger

It was actually the 30th when things started to go a little ‘pear shaped’,

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that was after the day spent visiting my dad in his care home on the shores of Loch Ewe. Moored ‘stern to’ on a buoy in the old fleet anchorage was Briggs Marine’s Kingdom of Fyfe This time last year Douglas Clyde, one of her current masters was working for Cal Mac as a master on Hallaig. Seem to remember having a pretty good bash in Raasay House with him last Hogmanay Smile Sadly the lure of the open sea proved too much for Douglas and he left us for Briggs shortly after.

Hoping to get stuck into some serious welding outside on my wind turbine foundations on Thursday, I was disappointed by A, the weather and B, a broken digger!!! Calum had died whilst my partner was using him to make some drains on the Torran track. The KX71-3 had suddenly stopped responding to all hydraulic controls bar the dozer blade and was quite a way from home on a really shitty day.

I went to have a look and very quickly came to the conclusion it was just a simple electrical fault relating to the ‘lever lock’ that prevents you using the hydraulics unless you’re actually inside the machine. All the diggers I’ve used have this lever/arm rest that has to be lowered prior to the ‘unloading valve’ closing. The Kubota will also not let you start the engine unless it’s in the up/safe position, though that’s a function I’ve not come across before.

Of course, as soon as I arrived at the digger it worked just fine so I started to ‘track’ home, whereupon it suddenly stopped after a few hundred yards. Calum was revving away, the blade would go up and down but that was all. I switched him off and without realizing the arm was still down I tried starting him again. It wasn’t until the Kubota was actually running that I realized it shouldn’t have been. Well that’s pretty easy to sort I thought, it must just be a faulty switch.

Eventually I got the digger into the barn, it would have been an impossible repair outside in the pishing rain. In the comfort of the shed I took the safety lever/arm rest apart and tested the switch.

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That’s the rascal in the centre of the picture below that bit of orange plastic, it’s easy enough to get to after removing the 2 x 14mm head bolts off the wrist rest and half a dozed Phillips head screws from the arm rest. Trouble was the switch tested OK so it was time to ‘break out’ the workshop manual which I’d bought off eBay for less than a fiver, all 440 pages of it on CD. This was great, apart from the poor Japanese translation, abysmal photographs and lack of index. Now do not get me wrong, it was invaluable, the wiring diagram was accurate  and the seller first class. Not only did he send me the CD but I got a link to download it directly onto my laptop too, so I didn’t have to wait for the post.

The wiring diagram was on two pages which was kinda awkward but I printed that off and stuck them together so that was just fine.


The favourite culprit now that the switch had been eliminated was the relay that controls it all or the wiring to it.

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There are four relays under the seat and all are the same, though only one controls this ‘interlock’ function and that one did have a dodgy connection which was burnt and had verdigris on it Smile Sure enough I cleaned it all up, swapped the relays around tested it and rebuilt all the stuff I’d ripped apart like the floor and seat. There  really isn’t much room in a Kubota KX71-3 cab! All was fine and I sent my mate on his way in the digger and the pishing rain, He barely got through the gate when it died!!

By now it was getting dark and I’d still got other stuff to do so ‘called it a day’ and went inside to study the manual in the comfort of the house. I now needed to find the solenoids that actuated the unloading valve and test them but on this score the manual was useless Sad smile The pictures were just so bad that location proved daunting to say  the least, though the digger aint that big and surely all i had to do was follow the pipes, yes.

Out for dinner

Having studied the book and come to the conclusion that it would be simple enough to sort in the morning I got myself cleaned up and we went out to the local restaurant. OK, we went to my mates house along the Torran track almost a mile away in the dark on foot. Whereupon, suitably laced with a fine red wine I confidently  enlightened my audience as how I was going to fix Calum in the morning, aye right. Well, the night went well, we dined on a fine soup consisting of cod and ground up crab shell followed by a fine mushroom and venison risotto. After which the three of us wobbled unsteadily homewards under a starry sky. At least that’s how I recall it, darling wife assures me it was pishing down, funny how good food, company and wine alters your perspective Smile 



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As usual, the first task of the morning was feeding the animals, though this time it was in daylight, not because the days are appreciably longer but cos I was stuck in my bed until almost 8:00am. Still the two Tamworth gilts are so happy in their new surroundings that they had to be woken up for breakfast.

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Their ‘hearty breakfast’ didn’t stop them breaking into the croft to raid the birds fat balls right enough.

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It was after that that I started removing yet again just about every one of the panels off the Kubota in my quest for the unloading valve solenoid.

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Eventually I found it, though it bore no resemblance to what it was depicted as in the manual. Having found it and having ascertained that the fault lay within the wiring loom I ran a separate 5 amp fused supply from the switch to the solenoid and all was peachy. Just had time to move my weather station sensors to a more suitable location before a hail shower and failing light.

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It’s now up near the wind turbine on a taller fence post and the wind readings have increased accordingly.

The ‘Boat Shed Bash’

That done, I gave the digger a good testing and deposited it back down the Torran track for my mate. The day was disappearing and I had to go to work to cover for my ‘back to back’ who was gonna ‘flash up’ the barbecue for the ‘Boat Shed Bash’ that was the night’s highlight. With Raasay House bizarrely closing for Hogmanay a couple of the Hallaig’s crew had taken it upon themselves to organize a night out at the old boat shed. So, I joined the Hallaig at 17:00 to let ‘Captain Cook’ Mackinnon away for duties in the galley so to speak.

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We had a ‘late run’

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which involved just one car and the finest bit of parking I’ve seen on an empty deck yet Smile

Seriously though, it was just great to get extra bodies on Raasay for the celebrations and I know they’d made a supreme effort to get here.


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And what an amazing night it turned out to be.

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One of my PA’s that hadn’t seen action since my 50th some ten years ago was ‘pressed’ into service and between ‘Big John’ and,

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well, everyone else, belted out some fine tunes until the ‘wee hours’.

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As for today, well, that’s been a bit of a ‘right off’ in the actual doing stuff front but we’ve done a little ‘first footing’ been first footed and I’ve repaired a grateful holiday makers wiper motor. All in all a pretty good start to 2017, well apart from me still being awake at 2:30 on the 2nd of January!

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