Life at the end of the road

September 25, 2017

All quiet on the ‘home front’ :-(

Well it’s been a while hey, sure these posts seem to be getting further apart and more disjointed these days. Truth is, ‘yours truly’ is steering gradually towards drawing his pension and has definitely started being a little less manic. Indeed the ‘grumpy old fart’ has even started watching TV!!!, I kid you not, these days I seem to draw more satisfaction from sitting on George our hand made sofa and watching the ‘one eyed monster’ than plinking away on a keyboard glued to my laptop. Sure we paid more for George than I’ve ever paid for a car but I’m hoping he’ll last much longer and not need either road tax or an MOT. I draw the line at soaps, reality TV, Simon friggin’ Cowell and anything on Channel 5 right enough but I do enjoy a good drama or something that doesn’t involve a prostitute being murdered in the first episode.

Still, I’ve actually been without a TV for a good part of my adult life and when I did watch it in earnest there were only 3 channels, no day time TV and a ‘test card’ for longer than any actual programmes Smile

Test Card, BBC2 625 Lines

I even remember getting mildly excited in the late sixties when it was upgraded to this one.

I was only 10 at the time and thought she was a bit of a babe Smile

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carole_Hersee

It’s just not the same

I guess part of it too is not having the ‘boy’ around, not that he was at home much or actually said a lot anyway. Ross left home when he was 11 really when he went off to high school, but it is strange not having him about the place at the weekends. Still, he does seem to be enjoying life at ‘Uni’ Smile I bet he’s not watching TV, do any children watch it these days? I know it’s the age of the mobile phone, video games and social media but I don’t recall Ross ever watching anything other than ‘The big bang theory’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Bang_Theory . I just found it annoying but perhaps that’s why he’s so good at physics Smile

Raasay Distillery is officially open

Anyway, enough of that I’ll try and update you with the news, which in reality means looking back through old photo’s in my camera cos my memory is carp Sad smile 

Of course the big, big news is the distillery is officially open and working, though not actually quite finished yet.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-41284423

https://scotchwhisky.com/magazine/latest-news/16035/isle-of-raasay-distillery-starts-production/

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/tag/isle-of-raasay-distillery/

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/island-of-raasay-celebrates-opening-of-first-whisky-distillery-7clgqjcsk

I’ll let the hacks of more reputable publications describe that to you, me I was working so missed the party, which by all accounts was pretty damn good Smile

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Sorry, that was just a random party on the Hallaig’s car deck a few days before Smile Methinks it was a wedding at Raasay house, whatever it was they were having a jolly old time of it Smile

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Here is the real party starting with the Isle of Skye pipe band who piped both on and off the good ship Hallaig much to the amusement of the passengers aboard. They also received an enthusiastic welcome on Raasay prior to marching the short distance to the newly converted hotel.

 

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The newly laid ‘stripy’ lawn looking, well, very stripy Smile This is just gonna look boodly amazing next summer, looks pretty good now right enough compared to what it did only a week previously.

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The various contractors ‘pulling out all the stops’ to make the day a success.

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Some 13 tar lorries arriving over a two day period to get the car park and access road ‘fit for service’, not to mention keeping the crew of Hallaig ‘on their toes’ Smile

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A trio of Scania’s from Mackenzie & MacLennan, Eyre Plant, A Macleod and Alec Beaton’s DAF making several trips to and from the Sconser quarry tar plant.

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The many and varied guests arriving sometimes by more exotic transport than the Hallaig Smile

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The Midnight Rose and Dignity making Raasay look a little more like Monaco for a day or two at least.

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The local fishing boat Lustre moving to her mooring for the festivities Smile 

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The fine Astandoa 70 being available for charter from her owners in Barra http://www.hebrideanprestigecruise.co.uk/ One of whom I sailed with aboard MV Finlaggan some year s ago, not that he’ll remember Smile

The rainbows and skate

One thing about all the rain we’ve had,

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there’s been no shortage of rainbows.

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There’s been an abundance of porpoises too, as well as a rather large skate that was swimming on the surface.

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Dunno if it was sick or confused but it must have been a good metre ‘wingspan’ and it was flapping about both upside down and the right way up before disappearing into the depths.

I know, I know, it’s pretty rubbish, you had to be there Smile

Meanwhile ‘back at the ranch’ I’ve been concreting, ‘digging and dumping’, fencing and preparing moorings for next year.

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This is a 4 strand 24mm ‘Sea steel’ rope that I’ve had tucked away in my barn for years. They don’t seem to sell it any more and I was never really sure of its advantage over a 3 strand rope. However with a steel ‘tube eye’ and good size swivel it’s eminently suitable for what I require. The rope is spliced just like a 3 strand apart from peeling the 5th inner core right back then folding three strands instead of two one way and the last strand the opposite way. You know if you have it right if you look at it upside down after the first tuck, you should see ‘one over, one under’ all the way around. I guess you would do four tucks instead of three to be ‘kosher’ but I never left the tails long enough so left it at three.

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IT will be just fine, I’ll do four on the next one Smile

Yamaha 350 Bruin rear shocker

My mate’s 2007 Yamaha YFM350 Bruin celebrates a decade of hard work this year so I thought I’d treat it to a new rear shocker and handbrake cable.

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This quad has done some serious work over last ten years, you only have to read this blog to realize how many tons of coal, oil, rock, pigs, furniture, building materials, fencing stuff, hydro turbine pipe and batteries it has shifted over the years. In all that abuse it has had little more than batteries, oil, tyres, brake pads, starter brushes, track rod ends, steering bushes and one or two electrical faults. It has had less money spent on it in ten years than a Quadzilla I know had in ten months. However the rear shocker failed recently, luckily quality ‘pattern’ ones are available for a fraction of a genuine one and they’re a piece of cake to change. Just jack up the quad under the frame until the rear wheels are just about to lift off the ground, remove the lower split pin and clevis. Lots of WD40 beforehand helps, once that’s out remove the top nut and bolt then replace the unit with lots of grease on everything. The cable is even easier, just cut through all the ‘tie wraps’ holding it to the frame, remove the clevis off the brake handle, undo the wing nut off the rear brake, tape the new cable to the old one then carefully pull it through. After that just connect everything up and adjust it, simples Smile

In the airport

So that’s it really, I’m stuck in the Holiday Inn at Glasgow airport having just completed my five yearly update of ‘Personal Survival Technique’s’ and now know how to do sea water colonic irrigation with a life raft foot pump. Tomorrow it’ll be a fire fighting update, hopefully I’ll not be going into a dark steel container and set on fire like what happened to me in Hull some years ago. That was real scary sh1t and I came away with singed ears and a healthy respect for fire prevention Smile

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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.

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