Life at the end of the road

April 4, 2022

The frog filter :-)

To be honest the thoroughly miserable day that was Monday the 4th of April was perfect for what I was doing today, well so long as you exclude walking Bonzo but he didn’t seem to mind  the rain. Which was the first thing I did after my third cup of coffee and updating the blog, after that it was into the shed to construct a filter for my Mate’s Harris turbine https://harrismicrohydro.com/ intake.

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The turbine which draws water from a loch down a 63mm MDPE penstock some 700m long with 90m head only uses a 4mm jet and very little water to produce enough power to run his house. However of late we’ve been experiencing a frog epidemic. Well three or four blockages in as many weeks and as we’ve only had three or four previous frog or newt blockages in 12 or so years I reckon a new filter was needed. The original one being made from a steel quarry screen for riddling fine stones cos it was all I had at the time. I had intended it to only be a temporary measure so it was about 10 years overdue changing anyway. Sadly the one I spent all morning making is in a similar vein as I couldn’t find any stainless steel so had to settle for some 1mm perforated galvanised steel with 2mm holes. However this time I WILL order some of the right stuff Smile The piece I found just needed trimming on one side to make it 500mm x 1000mm, my original plan being to wrap it around and weld it to some old brake discs that would ensure the filter didn’t move.

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However I quickly abandoned that idea when I felt the weight of it and realized I’d be carrying half a mile over a hill Sad smile Instead I used a brake disc as a template to cut two ends out of an old piece of ‘stock board’ a materiel made from recycled plastic that’s used in fish farming and agriculture. Its about 13mm thick very durable and easy to work with woodworking tools.

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Once I’d had my lunch I donned my dry suit, loaded my filter and tools onto the back of the quad and headed to Torran.

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My first stop being the turbine itself which I intended to switch off, but alas it had claimed yet another frog since yesterday Sad smile I turned the valve off anyway and took the perilous path up to Pipers Rock.

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Well I never used to think it was such a big deal in the past but with age one gets more cautious Smile The normally spectacular views of Skye, Fladda, Loch Arnish and even Dun Caan and the Brochel lochs being lost in the murk. Even the houses and crofts of South Arnish being shrouded in gloom. Leaving the quad by the boundary fence I loaded my gear and set off eastwards along the fence toward Loch nan Dubhan. The weather may have been miserable for photography but in my diving suit at least I was dry and not sweating or overheating as normally would be the case.

I thought I had it tough

Not far to the east of the gate there lies and old sheep fank complete with a sheep dip dug into the ground and lined with stone Surprised smile 

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The dipping trough itself is just east of these two pens

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the sheep would be herded down between these two walls down a slope into the dip.

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You can still see the stone retaining walls and base but the nearest water available to fill it would have to carried in buckets several hundred yards Surprised smile Thinking about that I grabbed my filter and walked off to the loch thinking how easy life is these days compared to back then.

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My task seemed a lot less onerous and pretty soon I was in Loch nan Dubhan fitting the new filter.

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The old one having rotted away completely Surprised smile

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Then it was back west to the quad past some remains of the old boundary wall that existed long before the fence I was following.

Once at the quad I set off gingerly down the hill and turned on the hydro turbine before heading home to feed the dugs whom I’d left behind for fear of loosing control on the track up to Pipers Rock Smile

January 25, 2022

A big bonus :-)

Not quite so grey today and pretty dry despite what the forecast was saying. Having said that I had my oilskins on for pretty much the whole day when not in the shed. Though if I’m honest that was more to do with needing pockets to put my tools, camera, glasses and torch in than any precipitation which never seemed far away.

Out of the house a little later than usual I was surprised to have to wake up the boys, normally they’re grunting at the gate as soon as they here my going to the shed to get their food. I guess they were so snuggled up in all that bedding Gavin next door had cut for them with his new scythe Smile

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After feeding them and depositing Molly in the Land Rover, Bonzo and I headed down to the Secret Cove to measure up for the replacement turbine I’m fitting down in the shed.

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It’s a magical place down there with water cascading down the cliff from amidst the roots of ancient aspen trees clinging to thin thin soil above.

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I wonder who will cling on the longest me or the trees Smile In three decades of living here I’ve never seen another soul down here but at one time it must have been well frequented. For just past the trees an old path leads all the way up from the shore to a stone shed on my old croft, the Arnish Net Shed. Once used for storing fishing gear for the boats of the township. I guess here was as safe place to pull up a boat at high water and it must have been a busy spot in days gone by.

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Another store for fishing gear perhaps? this one almost gets cut off at high tide, I’m still finding ruins after thirty years of living here which just goes to show how populated it once was at the North End.

Anyway, I’d come down here to measure up for the new Powerspout https://www.powerspout.com/ not get distracted like Bonzo Smile

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The Powerspout was going to be mounted where the Stream Engine hydro turbine had sat, which was on a Lego like base designed for making manholes in civil engineering projects. This I concreted into the base of the shed with an outlet at the bottom for the turbines tailrace. I just need to figure how to extend it higher whilst swivelling it through 90 degrees. After measuring things up I came away with a plan and we headed back to my workshop and started assembling the Powerspout and fabricating a manifold out of 50mm MDPE pipe. In retrospect I regret not buying the custom manifold supplied by Powerspout themselves https://www.powerspout.com/collections/plt-parts-and-accessories/products/powerspout-plt-pvc-manifold?variant=4968627339301

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As it cost me the best part of £100 for the bits of 50mm MDPE pipe fittings and the bore of the pipe is only 40mm. Powerspout recommend 50mm, which I don’t suppose is going to make a huge difference but I know form experience that the weight of a heavy manifold (like the one I’m making) requires external support or it will sag and misalign the jets.

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Especially when using pipe that has come off a roll for it tends to distort things as your trying to join Tees and right angles.

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I had to straighten my pipe by screwing it to the bench with 50mm exhaust clamps then blowing hot air on it. At least I hope it’s now straight, at this point I went in to finish of the curry.

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Even better after two days with the oven chips coated in olive oil and chili flakes left over form basting my roast veg on Saturday Smile

Pipe, pipe and more pipe

Once in for lunch I paid a few bills and discovered that the oil tanker was coming over on Thursday so decided to leave my pipe unbending on the bench and take my trailer down to the ferry terminal. This would ‘kill two birds with one stone’ for I’d promised some short lengths of 90mm pipe to Donnie the fisherman in exchange for a single 40M long length he’d found at sea some time ago. This MDPE fish farm pipe not only makes great hydro turbine pipe but is fantastic for making polytunnels too Smile

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As can be seen from Willy Eyre’s masterpieces from 14 years ago Surprised smile https://lifeattheendoftheroad.wordpress.com/category/polytunnel/

All I had to do was dig them out of the bracken and load in to the trailer.

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Where would we be without ratchet straps Smile

Manged to get them all the way to the south end without loosing any Surprised smile

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The cyclist I passed at Screapadale  looked pretty amused but I dropped them all off at Donnie’s house and he even offered to tow my two 40M lengths north with the Mary M.

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Woo Hoo, Bonzo will be pleased Smile

With the ten lengths in Donnie’s garden and my trailer left on the car park I went to get my 40M length and tow it round to the old pier with the other one.

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After the mission was accomplished I called round at the Raasay Store and was much impressed to find my printer cartridges waiting for me, I’d only ordered them yesterday, so now I’ve no excuse not to do my VAT return Sad smile 

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Feeling pretty chuffed with the day’s results I headed slowly home

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passing six hinds on my way.

That was it, fed pigs, dugs and self, sitting down to some spuds, steamed veg and burrata https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burrata I’d had given for Christmas.

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