Life at the end of the road

February 21, 2022

Where to begin

7:00AM and I’m not long up, the wind shifted to the north west during the night already it’s heralding a better day ahead with a steady stream of fishing boats heading north along the Skye shore. I guess they’ll be in the lee of the land for shelter. Sundays steady near gale force westerly may have veered and eased but it’s still quite lumpy out there. I may still be sat in my PJ’s not even having started on the strong black coffee that kick starts my day but I was up at 3:00AM Surprised smile The wind being so steady and constant that I wanted to put a long hot wash on to do my towels to put an immersion on for a couple of hours. That done and with my turbines still milling away I went back to bed to finish my well earned sleep. The Sabbath had been a busy one Smile

Air locked

The wind mean speed being 25MPH for day with gusts of double that. Added to that the frequent sunny spells and showers had given me the ‘perfect storm’ for energy production. So, after feeding the pigs Bonzo and I went to check out the Powerspout and turn on it’s second nozzle. The penstock must have had air in it when I commissioned it Saturday cos this morning its output as indicated on the Victron 250/60 MPPT controller was almost double what it had been when I started it.

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The image on the left showing 51V at 3A (153W) and the one on Sunday morning 53.5V at 7A around 375W. I guess that the penstock had been turned off for so long it must have had air in it somewhere down its 250M of pipe. Anyway I couldn’t wait to go and investigate with the wee dog.

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First stop was to check the forebay and inlet before going down the overgrown path to the turbine shed by the shore.

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The tide was pretty high with the sea almost cutting off apiece of land opposite the shed and turning it into an island.

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Upon entering the ‘turbine house’ the first thing I noticed was the almost doubling of dynamic head on the pressure gauge, even with both jets open it was now reading


54PSI or 3.7Bar as opposed to 28PSI or 1.9Bar on start up Smile 

Sure enough once back up the ‘power station’ the output was a far healthier

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15Amps or almost 775W Smile

Mr Lister is flat Sad smile

After that we collected Molly from the rear of the Land Rover and went in for a well earned breakfast before heading over to Torran with mail and parcels to give Mr Lister a run.

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I’d a feeling that Mr Lister wasn’t going to start, which turned out to be the case, his batteries had gone flat and I had to use the handle. However the ST2 Startomatic burst into life easily and my meter indicated he was charging OK. The Lister ‘Start O Matic’ is designed to start automatically one you turn on a load (around 60W). It will then continue to run until everything is switched off and the load reduces to below the 60W threshold and it does all of this without a single chip or PCB. Being designed in the 50’s it does it all with relays, coils, contacts and solenoids. It’s a very reliable system if not a little ‘agricultural’ however the battery charging circuit is a little basic and designed for charging the batteries over long periods of usage. You have to bear in mind these units were designed to run 12 hours a day 7 days a week and for that it is perfectly adequate. Consequently if left unused for long periods of time without disconnecting the batteries they tend to go flat as there is always a slight current in the ring main. So after firing him up I went back home to get a serious charger and left him running.


Running repairs

With all the rain lately the Torran track has been getting into a bit of a state so during my trips to and from the Schoolhouse I put a shovel in the back of the Mule. A trick that the Council roads department would be wise to emulate when they often send a 7m long empty pick up truck over to Raasay to read the Sun. At least that’s what they appear to do Smile A few strokes with a shovel to get the water off the roads would go long way to reducing the need for repairing potholes.

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Too much power Smile

Despite my best efforts to use all the electricity I’ve been making by washing all the towels, bedding, leaving all the lights on tumble drying everything. My ‘dump loads’ have been doing overtime, making my bunker and power station very warm. The ‘dump loads’ are wire wound resistors that dissipate excess electricity as heat and I have a lot of them.

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Around 10kW in the ‘power station shed another 11kW in my workshop


and around 8kW in the bunker.


The two in the bunker comprise of that big silver box which contains the 6kw wind turbine dump and that wire wound resistor at the base of it which isn’t really big enough at 1kW. It should be around 2kW but it was all I had at the time and the new ones I’d ordered before Christmas from Farnell were on back order. Well they finally arrived the other day so I fitted them last night.


These resistors providing a welcome boost to my air source heat pump who’s inlet is right above them Winking smile All you ever need to know about ‘Using a high power resistor as a dump load’ is contained in Hugh Piggott’s excellent blog.

December 9, 2019

Lots to do :-(

Golly gosh, 6:30 already, black and wild outdoors with plenty of stars but no sign of the moon, he must be hiding in the west somewhere cos he sure was bright last night. Well, it’s gonna be a short one this morning, about as long as it takes me to drink five cups of strength 5 Italian blend. Well, they are small cups and I don’t usually go higher than 3 Smile

It’s getting ‘that time’ when the ‘fortnight off’ draws to a close and I’m preoccupied with all the tasks left, as yet undone. Dealing with the pigs and associated shenanigans have taken up a good chunk of the last week, though I must confess to not having played much of an active part in the butchering this year. Living alone these days and already having a freezer full of deer, fish, scallops and even pork meaning, well, I just don’t want to be greedy Smile Having said that last night’s offering of faggots, spuds, broccoli and asparagus was deelish Smile


Balls of meat, seasoning and onion wrapped in this membrane called caul fat that surrounds some of the pig’s internal organs. Amazingly storng and sometimes called lace fat, you can see why. Well, I have one left and can’t make my mind up whether to put it on tonight’s menu or freeze it Smile


With a huge contingent working on the remains of Snowy and May I’ve been keeping myself amused with other tasks. An early morning trip to Brochel to service my Mate’s 6kW petrol generator being the first task. Early being quite relative, it was probably just before 9:00 but still dark when I set off.

The Dunan Star must have been out early for she was already lifting her trawl aboard before 9:00am, unusual here for a Sunday.

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The SDMO SH6000 petrol generator is far from the ideal or suitable machine to power an ‘off grid’ property. With a 13HP Honda GX390 as the ‘prime mover’ it’s pretty boodly thirsty, however it is quiet and starts easily. Unlike the brand new Stephill SSD6000 diesel supplied and fitted by a ‘reputable’ firm in England. And whilst it’s extremely frustrating I don’t think there’s a great deal wrong with the Stephill other than the clowns who fitted it.

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The Honda had recently had an oil change and I confined my work to a new recoil assembly and air filter. Starting her up easily when finished and leaving to running to put some life into the 10kWh BYD LiFePO4 battery pack which was down at 37%


With the Honda purring away I set off to do some road repairs,


sure, this is what I pay my Council Tax for but to be honest it’s actually easier making ‘run off’s’ with a spade than getting sense out of HRC. Why the feck they cannot drive around with a spade and do it themselves is beyond me. No they’ll just wait until potholes are deep enough to damage a car then pay a contractor to patch the holes and leave the root cause of the problem (water lying on the road) to make the next feckin pothole. I despair, not to mention have to fit yet more suspension joints and bushes to my cars to get them through the MOT Sad smile


That done I continued on to Torran doing more of the same,


the Council having long given up on repairing this track. They used to maintain it when I first moved here in the late eighties, now they do ‘feck all’ yet still charge full council tax to the properties it serves. Leaving path repairs to Raasay volunteers and the people who live here.

After breakfast at Torran and Molly drying herself we returned to Brochel to check on progress, calling at Brochel Loch on the way back.



The batteries being at a healthy 60% I left the solar panels to finish off, though there wouldn’t have been much from them yesterday Smile

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