Life at the end of the road

July 8, 2018

A day of ‘many hats’ :-)

Almost 21:00 and that’s me just finished the third plate of herring pasta https://www.lifestylefood.com.au/recipes/17943/mediterraneanstyle-herring-linguine which was basically that recipe but with spaghetti.

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Can’t say that I’ve ever made it but I certainly enjoy eating it, this is one of ‘darling wife’s’ specialities and was the perfect end to a perfect day. A busy day right enough and one with a good variety of tasks, the first of which was to finish off servicing the neighbours wind turbine.

Once upon a time I’d have done this job in half a day but I’ve slowed down a lot these last couple of years and these days I spend half my time looking for things I’ve just put down! Then there are all the times I have to go back to my workshop to collect stuff I’ve forgot. Still, I got there in the end. Even though I’d done all the ‘donkey work’ on Thursday and only had to clean up the slip rings, fit a new brake rope, replace two sheared bolts and raise the turbine, it still took me all morning. And that was with one of my neighbours helping!!

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The turbine has been running without a brake now for well over a year and has safely seen off several storms with 100mph plus winds. The brake is only really used when lowering the turbine or if it shed a blade or spring or something that made it become unbalanced. The brake could then be applied to prevent further damage. Having said that the Proven/Kingspan turbines are one of the very few that actually have a mechanical brake that can actually stop a turbine in a storm and keep it stopped. Most others have an electrical brake that sorts out the alternator phases, less than ideal and not guaranteed to work. You cannot stop a fast spinning turbine with an electrical brake and if the turbine is stopped and the wind strong enough it will overcome the brake, overheat and melt the core or windings. I speak from experience Sad smile

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This will be what was left of my Cheap and cheerful Chinese jobby when it was braked in a storm Sad smile

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7:00am now, got distracted last night by a bottle of Dalwhinnie ‘Winters Gold’

Dalwhinnie Winter’s Gold Bottling Note

Dalwhinnie Winter’s Gold is a 2015 addition to the Highland distillery’s range inspired by the chilly climate up in the remote part of Scotland where their single malt Scotch whisky is distilled – as the label remarks, it was "Crafted by the Cold". It’s made only with spirit that has been distilled between October and March, and interestingly enough, they suggest that you try serving this expression frozen!

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Oak spice, pear skins, golden syrup and gristy malt. A touch of peach polish and chewy, sticky toffee. From the freezer it’s fruitier, more green apple, apple sauce, toffee apple, sultana, even redcurrant.

Palate: Very honeyed with warming peppery spices, Big Red cinnamon. From the freezer the honey is kept in check much more, as are the spices. Plenty of apple flesh and orange peel.

Finish: Allspice, nutmeg and smoky malt. From the freezer the finish is more about the spicy cinnamon and peppercorn heat that’s found on the palate at room temperature.

Overall: An assertive, spicy, honeyed Dalwhinnie with enough sweetness and character to be served straight from the freezer (as intended).

I dunno about all that but it was smooth and nice with just a couple of drops of Arnish water in it. I just don’t get all this guff they talk about whisky, wine and football. There seems to be a whole industry that specialize in carp. I’m sure the Dalwhinnie does all of the above but there’s never any mention by the Scotch aficionados about the chlorine taste of tap water Smile I guess you just get used to it, me I think it ruins a good cup of tea or malt.

The Proven Brake

Anyway, back to the wind turbine brake, first thing we had to do was feed the new rope down the tower and for the replacement I chose a heavy braided twine, like the stuff used in a trawl net. One of the problems with the brake rope is that it has a regular ‘lay’(twist) of three strands wound ‘with the sun’ clockwise or righthanded. Braided or multiplat rope has the strands wound and laid in both directions so is much less prone to kinks and twists. Feeding the new rope down the 7m long pole proved a bit of a challenge as it has to go through a 12mm hole in the top of the ‘slip ring’ mounting. This we managed to do using a length of wire rope, pushing it downwards through the slip rings then taping the green twine to it and pulling from the bottom. The twine is then attached to the brake lever at the top of the mast but it must be run through a length of bungee cord or even spring to keep it clear of the shaft when not in use. To operate the brake you wind the cord around the actuation lever at the bottom of the tower then pull the lever downwards. When the brake is released the cord must be removed from the lever and left to hang loose so as not to get twisted. Even so, it generally does Sad smile

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After refitting and sealing the cowlings and checking all the blade bolts (one had snapped and was replaced) the turbine was raised, bolted back down with new M20 bolts and the gin pole removed, job done Smile

They don’t make them like this anymore

The dry spell may just have ended last night with what must have been overnight rain judging by the puddles and wet grass but I doubt it will have done much to replenish the depleted water tanks next door. We were always a little conscious of being economical with water at times like this when we lived at ‘Number 3’ but now there are far more people staying there as Maya and Nikky have the house on Airbnb   https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/8188794 so need far more water than we ever did. Consequently they’ve been pumping ‘Scottish Water’s’ finest from IBC’s into their storage tanks.

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I had a dedicated pump just for doing this that has all the hall marks of something World War II. I can’t even remember where it came from or who gave me but the little 170W Stuart Turner pump just keeps on going. Having said that it required a little attention yesterday but I soon sorted that with some grease and WD40 Smile 

Panasonic NA-127VB5 washing machine

That sorted I donned my ‘domestic appliance’ engineers hat to try and sort out the washing machine. I gotta say this Panasonic machine has been trouble since day one and I’d never have another. It failed within a few days of getting it home and fair play to Panasonic they offered me a new one. Me being a fool said “ I don’t want a new one, I just want this one fixing”. It is such a PITA getting a washing machine up to Arnish that I couldn’t be bothered taking it back. Anyway an engineer came out and initially blamed it on our DIY electricity, this I told him in no uncertain terms was mince as our electricity is far more stable and reliable than the National Grid and that’s a fact. He then blamed it on my DIY plumbing. At this time the washing machine was in the shed as we were living in the caravan and to be fair to him, the drain was a bit high (or was it low). Anyway, he did some adjustments on the door catch and for the next few months it was fine. Once in the house it failed again and another engineer came out. Can’t remember what the problem was this time but it was OK for a year or two bar the odd error code relating to water pressure (despite us having almost 3bar). Recently it has started stopping mid cycle cos the machine thinks the door is open and the only cure is to restart the cycle and or sit there with your hand pressed on the door till it finishes Sad smile 

This was obviously a switch or adjustment fault so I pulled out the machine and had a look at the switch and catch.

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They both seemed fine so I carefully elongated the holes that retain the switch so it would allow the door catch to press the switch deeper so to speak. Well that seemed to work a treat as we have now done three full wash cycles without any problems.

If I didnae have a Landy it would be one of these

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Next it was the mechanics hat again to have a look at the trusty Nissan Patrol of next door’s  that had a broken catalytic converter. I gotta say, if I didn’t have a Land Rover then I’d probably have one of these, the Nissan Patrol is truly ‘built like a tank’. The catalytic converter had broken off at the bottom weld.

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It was a clean break and resting on the front anti roll bar so I reckoned that if I could remove the front track rod then I’d at least be able to get half of it welded.

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Typically on a 12 year old truck, the track rod end split pins were rusted in and had to be drilled out but that was soon done and the the track rod swung out of they way.

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This enabled me to get a good few dollops of ‘pigeon sh1t’ welding on at least half of it. I could ‘blame my tools’ and tell you the rods were damp (which they were) but the truth is my welding is dubious at the best of times Sad smile

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Once welded I made up a bracket to hold the pipe more rigidly then if it does snap then at least the pipe will stay in the cat and be perfectly serviceable until a new cat can be fitted (but not by me Smile)

Painters hat next

That done it was the time and weather to get on with painting an creosoting the hen shed. I had made a start on this on Friday night when I came back from Inverness. That was after I called in at the Raasay stores for some milk and caught up with my pal Peter

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who was also on small single seat transport Smile

It was a perfect evening for painting with just enough breeze to keep the midge away and reduce the temperature to comfortable levels as I had to swap the shorts and T shirt for dark blue overalls.

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The hens retiring to a ‘dangerous area’ whilst I got on with the job.

Well, I got most of it done

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and should now go and finish off.

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November 6, 2013

It’s my own fault :-(

Well that’s the first day on the croft by with and I managed to stay in bed until 7:30 and enjoy a much needed lie in. Of course when I finally did get out of bed and discover what appeared to be a beautiful day I was wracked with guilt for wasting part of it.

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Not that it lasted, for by the time I’d fed all the pigs and loaded tools up into the quad the heavens opened, luckily I’d managed to ‘kit up’ first and was spared a soaking so early in the morning.

Poor Yangzhou Shenzhou

I must have written reams on here and on various internet forums about the inadequacies of Chinese wind turbines but as you probably know, I bought one anyway. The 200w unit was in a sale and cheap so I figured that I should at least have a go at making one work, and over the next few months I did.

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It was just as I feared, poorly made, inadequately painted, abysmally welded, out of balance and complete with Mickey Mouse bearings. However after much patience and around £30 worth of bearings I got it ‘flying’ and was quite chuffed. To be honest though I didn’t really have a use for it as it’s 24v and my system is 48v. Of course I could have used a ‘grid tie inverter’ to ‘AC couple’ it into our own supply but we’ve more than enough wind power as it is with the Proven.

After much deliberation I just connected it to a 450ah battery bank for starting the HR2 Lister and used the ‘dumped heat’ to warm up the shed. This worked a treat and the little ‘dragonfly’ as we called it whirred away in the lightest of breezes and kept me company whilst building the hen shed cum solar panel mount.

Now, I knew that this ‘little baby’ was not man enough to weather a good week or so of gales and I knew they were lurking out in the Atlantic, indeed the same weather system wreaked havoc in the south east recently. Knowing all of this I was still too slow in stopping the turbine, so slow in fact that ‘braking’ the turbine by shorting the phases would have been catastrophic so I had to let her ‘sit it out’. The result being a ‘lost phase’ and reduced output, so that was my first task of the day, go and have a look. I’d measured the output and resistance a few days ago at the bottom of the mast and was kind of hoping for just a burnt connection or two where the wires exit the alternator and connect to the cable. So off I went and scaled the mast with meter and tools Smile

 

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I just knew it was going ‘to end in tears’ as soon as I got the cover off, smelt the smell and saw the burn marks around the breather hole Sad smile 

No point wasting daylight on that I thought and got on with the solar powered hen shed, I could deal with the turbine at dusk.

 

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That’ll be the dusk that now arrives an hour later thanks to ‘daylight saving time’ but I’ll spare you yet another rant on that subject Smile

 

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The 32’ x 8’ hen shed is coming along nicely, wifey and the boy dug some drains around it at the weekend so it’s considerably less squidgy underfoot than it was.

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It’s still hard going right enough as I’ve not actually got a usable road up there now, sure I can get the quad up, but not with any weight or the trailer on so everything has to be carried up there for now.

 

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OK, it’s not very far but it is quite steep and those 12’ long 6” x 2”s aren’t exactly light, especially when every single plank needs about 80 nails removing.

 

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That was it really up at the hen shed really, poor light stopped play around 16:30, and whilst I could have carried on in the dark I wanted to remove the turbine so I could work on it. I’ve not got any lights up yet in the barn and my vice and most of my tools are in my wee workshop at home.

 

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Sure enough, once I got the Yangzhou Shenzhou home and stripped it down my worst fears were confirmed Sad smile

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Believe it or not this charred lump was still producing electricity!!! admittedly not much and the casing was probably live but it was still generating.

 

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One thing for sure though, it got very, very hot before it died Smile I shouldn’t be too hard on the little ‘Chinese jobby’ though, it was entirely my own fault, I knew these turbines were not built for Scottish weather and did nothing about it. A far cry from the Proven that seems to thrive on whatever the Atlantic can throw at it, which reminds me of an adage about potatoes that is just as apt for wind turbines. ‘You should always take seed potatoes south’,  in other words don’t take a light wind turbine to a strong wind area and expect it to thrive.

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