Life at the end of the road

September 2, 2016

An untapped source :-)

That’ll be 19:00 and I’m in for the night, I did get all geared up for a trip to the Screapadale beach for some lovely red pebbles to finish my latest project. Sadly no sooner had I loaded up the quad with buckets and bags than the heavens opened. A brightness to the south suggested it was just a passing shower but I didn’t fancy wading through the 5’ high wet bracken to get to the shore.

Anyway, it had been a productive day so as part of my new ‘slow down’ approach to life I called it a day. I was feeling pretty smug with myself anyway, having just received our EPC this morning.

Is this the most ‘Energy Efficient’ house in the land?



  Think I’ll get it framed and mount it in the living room Smile There cannot be many houses in the land with an EPC like that, think I’d better open a bottle of red to celebrate Smile  Many thanks to Paul and Scott of Haus Architectural and Timber Frame for that interstellar rating.


Methinks they need a new standard, just wait until the BIG wind turbine goes up. Seriously though, I could not have done it without all the help I got from Hugh Piggott at and all the folks at who helped out with the RE stuff. My builder Lachie Gillies, my plumber Billy Shanks, sparkies and his ‘right hand man’ Jamie were all patient with my madcap scheme and put up with all my unusual requests. I wasn’t even sure it would work myself so I’ll forgive them for being sceptical, which they all hid very well Smile Archie Macdonald Drawing and Designing Services of Portree deserves a mention for easing us through planning with his sympathetic design. As does George Milne of for all his help in the latter stages when we suddenly needed a ‘project manager’ for the mortgage we didn’t think we’d need. George ‘took the reins’ found the best contractors available and kept everything on course. First class job by everyone concerned, not forgetting of course Ben Wear of Skye design who did our airtightness test. Ben was also there at the very beginning helping Archie do the ‘site survey’.

Thanks to you all chaps.

The battery check

First thing I did this bright September morn was to go and check all my battery banks. To be honest I’m not a fan of multiple banks in an ‘off grid’ application, one good one is all you need. However, over the years I’ve acquired two extra, a 450Ah 24V bank and a 950Ah 48V bank as well as my main 800Ah 48V Rolls Bank.

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I’m rather fastidious about all of them and this one in particular as it supplies the house. Once a month I check the SG prior to topping them up with deionized water. It should actually be distilled water but I can’t seem to get that here. I do keep trying but either end up with more deionized or a refusal to deliver this far north!!

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This is the 24V one and is only ever used for starting the generator, which is a terrific waste. I still take good care of it as one day I’ll make better use of it.

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This 48V one resides in ‘The Bunker’ and is connected to an Outback GVFX 3048e inverter. I have great plans for utilizing this when the extra wind turbine goes up. I’m going to connect my current turbine to this bank and fit my new turbine into the house system. It’s a little complex and very much ‘work in progress’, anyway  it still needs a good drink and check every month.

Immersion ‘jiggery pokery’

Next job has been on the ‘to do’ list for a while.

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The Akvaterm 1500lt thermal store has 5 immersion heaters in, the top one is left on 24/7 and is connected directly to the regular house circuits. This part of the store supplies all the hot water to the house, the two below are controlled by SSR’s and utilize excess energy from the PV and turbines. A description of how they operate can be found on Hugh’s blog, it was himself that built these circuits for me


The bottom two are spare and at the moment connected to the generator. Now the problem, if you can call it that, is that in good sunny/windy weather the water has been getting hot enough to open the thermostats on the SSR controlled elements. This is not a problem as the DC air heaters then start to dissipate the excess. Trouble is, that’s kinda wasteful, so what I did today was move the first diversion load down to the bottom of the tank.

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This should give much more hot water before the thermostat opens. As the houses greatest energy demand comes from heating and hot water it makes more sense to store that than electrons in a battery Smile Hence the reason for such a large hot water tank.

A new ‘stone mine’

Generations of Macleod’s, Nicolson’s, Mackay’s and Cummings, not to mention ‘your truly’ have stripped the land of good building stone that’s easy to access. Sure there are plenty of ruins but I’m reluctant to pillage those, nature itself is making a pretty good job of reclaiming those and I don’t want to speed up the process. Before long there will be precious left of what was once a thriving community here and elsewhere. I don’t mind pilfering from around the ruins but even those pickings are getting slender now. North Arnish still has some nice material fallen and grassed over but that’s all up a very large hill.

The recent ‘road’ to the fank has opened up a whole new source of good stone that lay well below the road and was too much like hard work to recover.

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Beautiful building stone that would have been ‘back breaking’ to recover is now in my grasp Smile

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All of which went into my latest ‘taking it easy’ project at the back of the house.

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As you can see, I need more pebbles Smile

February 7, 2016

A visit from ‘The Blind Man’

Filed under: daily doings, shed/house — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 3:47 pm

Saturday was a far better day than expected and very productive both inside and out. Little chance of any blogging right enough as it was ‘a late one’ under the ‘Egg Chariot’. What an epic a simple wheel bearing change on a Subaru Forester has turned into. I got the car for wifey on the way back from Birkenhead, we’d been looking for a Forester for a while and this one from Kenmure Car Sales  in Dumbarton seemed like a possibility. It had higher mileage than I was looking for but it was cheap and on the way home. So after catching the train from Liverpool to Barrhead, spending the night at Mum in Laws and buying a concrete floor polisher I went to look at a few Subaru’s.

I gotta say when I looked around it I wasn’t a 100% convinced it was the car for the wife but I was so impressed by the lack of ‘hard sell’ from Bradley Stein the proprietor and his willingness to tell me all its faults that I decided to take a chance. He told me it had a duff rear wheel bearing prior to me taking out for a run, handed me the keys and said ‘take it out for as long as you like’, leaving MiL and me to go for a whirl around Dumbarton.

That was it, I was ‘sold’ on the Forester, got a good discount for the wheel bearing and drove it away a happy chappie, straight up the road home. Of course after a 29 year old Land Rover anything is pure luxury but even with the wheel bearing growling it was still quiet and returned a respectable 35MPG on the way north.

The Subaru Forester rear wheel bearing epic

  So with £300 off the price of the car and a quality SKF bearing for £50 or so from Euro Car Parts in Inverness I was well chuffed. That was until I started removing everything months later and found everything was seized Sad smile I ended up having to cut through several large and serious bolts, and Subaru in their wisdom choose to use a fine metric thread of 14mm which is not so common, especially at 270mm long! As it was becoming apparent that it was going to be major work and I’d be awaiting parts  I decided to do both sides and stiffen up the rear end for towing. The £50 job was turning into a major dent on the credit card Sad smile

When I got the first bearing off it became obvious that the one supplied by Euro Car Parts was not even remotely similar, turned out it was a front one for a SAAB and in the wrong box. More delay but they did have two in stock of the correct ones and I planned to collect them on the way back from the abattoir last week. However the puncture put paid to that . Phoned Euro Car up and got them couriered to Sconser, more delay and expense.  Decided to uprate to heavier springs and new shockers, they arrived 48 hours later! whereas the rear tie bar Polybushes that I ordered took a week to get here and only arrived last night!!! The eBay seller took 5 days to post them!!! However when he finally did (on Friday) they arrived 24 hours later, along with an inner tube I’d ordered on Friday morning, well done Royal Mail.

So, that was it, more than a week after starting the job I finally had all the bits to finish off the job.

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The old bushes are the black ones and I damaged them when cutting through the 270mm bolt that goes through the hub carrier and lower tie bars. Polyurethane bushes are simple enough to fit as they come in two parts with a steel insert. You can push the bush in by hand then press the inserts in with a G clamp. Only problem being they were the wrong frigging bushes!!!! I was livid, almost a week to get them and they’re no even right!! The hole in the insert was only 12mm, not 14mm as required for that dirty great long bolt, nothing for it but to fit the old ones!

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Now they require a little more persuasion, so I made up a puller from a large socket and some washers. By late evening I had it finished and tested and could at last go and admire our new blinds Smile

The Blind Man cometh

I’ve never been one for blinds or curtains, I’m never in the house when the sun is out, we’ve no problem with ‘Peeping Toms’ and with triple glazing there are no cold spots. So, I just don’t see the point,


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why would you want to cover them up?

Anyway, I was severely overruled in that department and before I knew it I was talking to Tony Stridgeon  of Tony just happened to be on the ferry one day a few weeks ago and someone pointed him out. As soon as we got to Sconser he gave me a sample book and then after we chose what we wanted he came to measure up.

A couple of weeks later Tony emailed me to say they were here and yesterday he cam to fit them.

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There are thirteen of them so he was at it until after 14:00 but they really do set the rooms off. I had my doubts about the living room, being allergic to tartan and thinking it would make the house look like a gift shop, but they’re actually very nice, honest. I hasten to add it’s the only room with kilts hanging on the wall Smile

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Well, that didn’t work, I was trying to take a picture of the blinds and the view but the camera can’t cope with the bright outside and the dark blinds.

Anyway, that’s in, guests coming around for dinner tonight so little chance of any action on here. It’s boodly awful outside so I’ve been helping the Hen Lady clean out the chooks.

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Despite all that, and with an outside temperature around 6 degrees but feeling like minus 6 due to the wind chill. Despite that the solar hot water tubes are at 57 degrees and I’ve turned the heating on the house!

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