Life at the end of the road

February 18, 2017

Curing nicely :-)

Gosh, almost two weeks since I’ve been on here and what a spell of fantastic weather we’ve had. Of course it all went severely ‘pear shaped’ after Valentines day but prior to that it was pure awesome. I had three consecutive days of 10kWh solar generation and 60kWh for the full week. OK, probably not ‘interstellar’ for a 4.75kW array in Aberdeenshire or Sussex but probably my best ever.

Sure the only ‘fly in the ointment’ being that I’m actually at work so have missed out on some serious work at home, but ‘hey ho’ it’s been a pleasure on the Hallaig too. Sadly the many visitors that turned up for ‘half term’ missed out on the best of it but most people on the ferry seem to be smiling these days Smile

February the 6th was the last ‘working day’ of the ‘fortnight off’ and it got off to a fine start with a little snow on the Storr. Unusually for a busy day I took the ‘wee dug’ for a walk, our Molly is unusual in the dog world in that she has to be dragged out for a walk. Indeed she’s started limping to try and con us into thinking she’s got a sore leg. I’m no doubt it was sore to start with but now, when she thinks no one is there she walks on all four legs!!!

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So, after carrying her over the gravel outside the house I put her down on the road and off we went.

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All three of us, for no sooner had we closed the gate than we were joined by the girls Smile

Mitsubishi MM30SR problems

I still had a couple of hours to spare as Ross from Eyre Plant had phoned from Sconser to say he couldn’t get on the ferry!!! Not often the Hallaig is full these days but there were a couple of trucks before him and the usual Monday morning workers.

My good mate Lachie had dropped off his 3 ton Mitsubishi digger for me to have a look at, and me, confident with my success at fixing mine had said I’d have a go at it. Trouble is, it’s a ‘grey import’ from Japan and there is very little concrete information on it, in English at least. He bought the machine locally very cheaply but it had a fault, “machine randomly stops digging but is OK after a restart”. At least that’s what it used to do, now all it will do is track and lift the blade.

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As the working functions are manual and the none working ones are electronic I figured it would be something to do with the interlock that prevents these from operating unless you are sat in the machine. Mine had a very similar problem connected with the wiring to the ‘unloading valve’. This is a solenoid operated valve that bypasses all the functions that were not working unless you are sat in the cab.

Tracing electrical faults without a wiring diagram and hydraulic ones without a circuit diagram isn’t easy and a quick search on the Internet told me that I’d not be getting them any time soon http://www.heavyequipmentforums.com/threads/mitsubishi-mm30sr.7464/#post-225364 Sad smile That post describes the fault to tee and was not very encouraging. Methinks the previous owner of this particular Mitsubishi must have read it too Smile

No matter, armed with my previous experience I felt confident

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despite everything being written in Japanese Smile

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Indeed, after stripping out the machines floor I found the ‘unloading valve’ solenoid, removed the connecting plug that was full of water and thought ‘yippee’. I then bypassed the wiring by connecting straight to the battery but that didn’t do anything either so I tried operating the solenoid manually, again without success Sad smile  Unfortunately, just as I was ‘getting into it’ I got distracted Smile

The BIG pour

OK, it wasn’t that big in the end but  Ross from Eyre Plant arrived at ‘the end of the road’ with what must be the heaviest load yet to make it north.

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His rather large and ‘top heavy’ Scania turned up at just after 11:00 having dropped off half his load at the distillery. Plan was to make two trips if necessary and if any was left it would go towards the 60 cubic meter pour for the warehouse down there.

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Me, I’d been busy the day before cramming some extra mesh and 20mm rebar into the ‘ole having mixed 9 cubic meters myself with the wee mixer.

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Also chopped up some hose and plastic ducting to cover the M30 studding so as to keep the threads clean.

Ross expertly reversed the huge ‘eight wheeler’ Scania up the drive and got ready with his remote control to pour the 35 Newton mix into the ‘ole.

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Once he started there wasn’t much time for pictures as I was busy with the ‘poker’

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A petrol driven vibrating stick something like a heavy strimmer that Ross had brought with him. I’d borrowed it from a mate and just wished I’d borrowed it a week earlier. When pouring concrete it’s essential to get the air out of it so it flows everywhere, especially in something like this where the scope for air pockets is huge.

When I was mixing with the electric mixer I’d used a garden hoe and it was boodly hard work, this tool made it a much easier affair. Working it frantically around the bar and steel plates you could see the concrete visibly shrink as it disappeared into unseen air pockets. I was most impressed and put one on my ‘wish list’ Smile

 

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Not much later the full load of 6.1 cubic meters was in the ‘ole. My son and I had come up the calculation of 6.4 and 6.5 and I reckon 6.3 would have been perfect. As it was the load was about 12mm short of the top of the shuttering at one end so certainly not worth a return trip, so Ross cleaned down his truck and headed off. All in all the job had taken me a week to mix and pour 9 cube and him less than an hour to pour 6, by midday he was gone.

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I have to say, I felt very pleased with myself Smile The day had been perfect for it, dry, mild and with a fresh breeze but by late afternoon it was pure pishing down. Far too wet and windy for tinkering outside on the Mitsi so I turned my attention towards the ‘Old Girl’.

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Or, to be more precise, a new drivers door for her from Darren at Jedi 4×4 https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=jedi%204×4 . Even though I fitted brand new genuine Land Rover doors 15 years ago and fully injected them with underseal they are all now rotten. The problem being that it took Land Rover over 50 years to realize mixing aluminium and steel s not a very good idea due to the electrolytic action between the two different metals. Newer models are now all steel and galvanized so should fare better.

Back to work

The crappy weather surrendered to the Scandinavian high and left us with a refreshing spell of easterly winds and brilliant sunshine.

 

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We also had some splendid moonlit mornings and evenings.

moonlit storr

That’ll be taken from the bedroom window one early morn as the moon slips behind the Storr on Skye.

Sadly that came to an end and today, Saturday, you can tell how bad the weather is cos the clam dredgers have appeared Sad smile

 

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Two of them ‘scratching’ away in the narrows.

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We also had a welcome visit from the MV Loch Bhursda who was calling in for a break on her passage from Berneray to Mallaig. The Bhrusda had been relieving the MV Loch Portain on the Sound of Harris route whilst the Portain was in for her annual refit at Garvel Clyde.

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After our lunch and her rest, we carried on with the days schedule and she headed for Mallaig.

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We could still hear her almost an hour later Smile OK, not quite but her big V8’s burn more fuel in a day than we do in a week and exhausts are noisier than most low flying jets!!!

A classic Bultaco Pursang

As you often do whilst ‘surfing the net’, I came across an unexpected surprise the other day.

Pursang 2

 

I saw this Bultaco ‘scrambler’ on Facecloth on an acquaintances page. It is a 1969 Bultaco and I owned it for several years, or to be more precise I looked after it. It belonged to my best mates brother when he was a lad down in Lancashire, he was only a boy at the time and used to race it in what was then called the ‘schoolboy scrambles’ . Methinks you had to be under 16 at the time and I guess he’s not much younger than me so probably around 1973 or 4 when he had it, so it wasn’t very old then. Roll on ten years or so and it’s gathering dust in my mates garage http://www.bmsaccrington.com/  and I’m on holiday from my then job managing a scallop farm on Scalpay.

I visits my mates garage as usual to see what I can scrounge and came away with a lathe and this. Not even sure if his brother even knew at the time Smile He says to me, “if it’s any use take it but I may want it back”, so I did and for several years I tried to tame this race tuned beast. The thing went like a rocket and I was really scared of it, you had to slip the clutch like feck to get going, as it had no power whatsoever below 3000RPM. Beyond that it generally lifted the front wheel and you were off, usually by pointing it in the general direction you wanted to go and hoping for the best. Despite all this on good days I’d travel the four mile forestry track to work on Scalpay with it whenever I could. Though I had it for the best part of a year before discovering it had five gears. The tiny front brake did little to encourage confidence so I rode it as slowly as I could, which to the untrained eye or ear must have seemed like a maniac. This machine just did not do slow Smile

A few years later I moved to Raasay taking ‘the beast’ with me but using it less frequently on account of the poorer tracks here. Around six or seven years later my mate phones me up asking if I’ve still got it, bear in mind it’s now been in my possession for some ten years or so. Sure says I, he then informs me that some chap has been looking for it for four years, as it was the first motorbike he ever owned and he got it when it was almost new.

To cut a long story short this chap (pictured below) loaded a lovely Montessa trials bike into the back of his HiLux and drove all the way from Lancashire to Raasay to swap it for the Bultaco. I was ‘over the moon’ cos the Montessa was designed to go very slowly over obstacles rather than quickly around them. Russell was dead chuffed cos he’d finally got his old bike back and twenty years later it’s fully restored to its former glory. Not bad for a 48 year old two stroke hey Winking smile

 

Pursang 1 Bultaco

Nice one Russ, I just cannae believe it was only a 125cc!!!!!!

Good and hard

So that’s it really, tis Saturday evening aboard the good ship Hallaig and we’re just awaiting the late sailing. Tomorrow I’ll get a good look in daylight at my turbine base which is no longer an ‘ole but 30 tons or more of steel and concrete that has been curing nicely for almost two weeks. This time next week it’ll be good and hard and with a bit of luck I’ll have got the mast in position.

January 31, 2017

The ‘Des res’ for wiglets :-)

This ‘ole for the new wind turbine is really getting me perplexed, methinks I need to reduce its size to around 8 cubic meters so as I can get the batching truck safely up to the ‘end of the road’. Sorry, I’ll rephrase that, I need to make the ‘ole smaller so someone else can safely bring their truck up the road. We’ve had a fair old selection of trucks up here and even two articulated lorries but Eyre Plant’s Scania ‘batcher’ will have the heaviest load per axle I’m sure.

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And that’s not including the snow plough, Calor gas tanker, cattle float and septic tanker Smile  Just wish I could convince Certas Energy to deliver oil here Smile I bet Calum would be dead chuffed at the amount of tonnage that’s been up his road.

A new home for the girls

Anyways, having got the old oil tank into a suitable position https://lifeattheendoftheroad.wordpress.com/2017/01/28/robins-first-day-at-work/ in amongst the trees we set about reassembling it, beefing it up and making a new roof.

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It’s a cracking spot up there sheltered by the trees on three sides, facing the sun but with a small bank in front to give the door some degree of protection. Basically it’s an old 1200lt oil tank split down the middle and widened by 24”. It’s plenty big enough for a couple of full grown sows and we even had Bramble farrow in there once. Mind you, that wasn’t intentional and I wouldn’t recommend it.

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However it’ll be perfect for these two darlings, who, true to form came to check it out. Pigs are really intelligent and curious creatures and if you’re working in the same place long enough they’ll always come and check out what your doing. Probably looking for food or a wee belly scratch if the truth be known, well there was none of the former but they both got a good scratch and the keeled over like they do Smile 

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Rainbow and Proven wind turbine on 11m mast

 

More mixing

That was the weekend out of the way so on Monday morning I headed off early to the Sconser quarry for more 20mm concrete mix.

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A Macleod’s lovely old Daf was on the weighbridge and LAS Plant of Inverness were delivering a cheery picker to the distillery.

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It was a perfect day and I managed to get the 9:25 back to Raasay

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and was mixing by 10:25. I just can’t believe how easy it is doing this. I have mixed tons and tons of concrete over the years and have always been pure wrecked afterwards. Normally you are lifting from a pile of sand, aggregate  and cement. Having the aggregate pre mixed at waist height with the mixer at the same level turns backbreaking work into gentle exercise.  Even after taking a lunch break I’d mixed over tons in less than two hours without breaking a sweat.

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The hardest job being moving my mates pallet around the edge of the ‘ole Smile

That done it was time to put Robin to work again,

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but not before I’d fitted a tool box to the front rack. This ten year old rack doesn’t look like it’s ever carried anything! I kid you not, there’s not a mark on the paint work, consequently I wrapped pipe insulation around it before fastening it on with ‘tie wraps’. I cannot believe I just did that Sad smile

Then, with my nice shiny tool box full of wire cutters, crow bar, hammer and cordless drill we went to collect a hen house from next door.

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Hens like to ‘snuggle up’ for warmth and our current hen house is rather large for the five hens in it so we decided to retrieve one of the old ones. These houses have been designed and built by ‘Donald the Hen’ of Struan on Skye and are perfect for around a dozen hens. We’ll be getting eight more off him shortly so this will be nice and cosy for them. It will also keep them separate from the current ones for a while to prevent bullying.

Back to the quarry

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This time it was Fraser’s Eyre Plant Scania on the weigh bridge.

 

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Another couple of tons goes into the trailer and home for 17:15 Smile

That was it really, well apart from this

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the stills uncovered Smile  http://rbdistillers.com/

 

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This is all I’ve seen of them lately, so was good to see them ‘in the flesh’ so to speak.

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