Life at the end of the road

December 11, 2018

Back on track :-)

Been a while I know but I kinda got swamped by events in what’s been a ‘roller coaster’ of a fortnight, starting with a less than fruitful visit to see my Land Rover at Tayside Land Rover. The six week ‘refurb’ now in its sixth month and with no prospect of seeing my ‘Old Girl’ again this year Sad smile That trough in the ‘sea of life’ didn’t last long right enough, for the day after I was at SWG3 in Glasgow ‘shakin my ass’ to Groove Armada on their 21st anniversary tour. Their first live appearance in seven years and boy, was it just an awesome gig with Andy, Tom and the band on top form.

 DSCN1632 DSCN1631

The venue was pretty cool too, an old warehouse that used to house Clydeside Galvanisers on the north side of the river.

DSCN1605 DSCN1614

Harri of ‘Harri and Domenic’ from the Sub Club opened the evening followed by Mash, then at around 21:00 Groove Armada blazed on to rapturous applause.

 DSCN1622 DSCN1623 DSCN1627

Superstylin, Easy, Down by the river, I see you baby (shakin that ass) where all in the set list and delivered with gusto by a large black lady, an ex Sugababe and a rapper who’s name escapes me.

DSCN1629 DSCN1630

I was in my hotel before midnight sober and on my way home after a hearty breakfast before 8:00AM Smile

Methinks three quarters of the warehouse would have been nursing hangovers or ‘come downs’ by the time I’d arrived home to Raasay rainbows Smile

P1140373 P1140374 P1140375

John Noel Macbeth

The euphoria was short lived, for that evening I received news that my good friend John Macbeth had died suddenly on Raasay. John was only 33, ‘fit as a butcher’s dog’, walked or cycled everywhere and never did anything to excess. He’s left a large hole in many peoples lives I’m sure, he is sorely missed.

DSCN1424 DSCN0542 

A great champion of renewable energy John had helped me with many of my projects and I with one or two of his Had I access to the Internet right now I could find pictures of just a few of the barmy things we did together like towing 1800m of hydro turbine piping with a 12’ boat some 12 miles at walking pace. Erecting wind turbines and dragging salmon cage pipe over the heather and lifting anchors with 25lt water containers. Not only did John Macbeth have a degree, he had common sense and an ability to think ‘outside the box’, an attribute rarely associated with a university education, at least not in my experience Smile  We are all gonna really miss John.

I could ‘go off on one’ about John’s tragic death and NHS Scotland’s failure to maintain ‘out of hours’ nursing cover on Raasay. I could have a right feckin’ good rant about that and how two other friends tried for hours to resuscitate him cos there’s no friggin’ nurse on the island anymore but what’s the point. I’ve been in tears on and off for over week now and gotta keep an eye on me own blood pressure.

Mini digger tracks

Another thing John and I shared was the recent loss of both of our parents and whilst we did often speak of this, in all honesty I cannot say how he dealt with it. Me, I dealt with my parents passing like I dealt with John’s, I got stuck into something so I’d not have to think about it or speak to anyone. The ‘wimps’ way out I guess and I can’t say it worked very well, for I still kept finding myself blubbering. However, tackling a big job for the first time does concentrate the mind and with a little help from YouTube, it was my Sunday task.

 DSCN1636 DSCN1633 DSCN1637

So, after lifting the tracks out of the trailer and giving Calum a good power washing I settled him down in front of the shed door and jacked him up using his hydraulics. After placing heavy duty 6 ton axle stands under him I removed the cover from the idler expander and loosened the track.

DSCN1638 DSCN1639 DSCN1640

A block of wood jammed in the drive sprocket and tracking forward assisted greatly in loosening further.

DSCN1642 DSCN1643

With the idler contracted as far as it will go the track is prised over it first, then the drive sprocket. I managed this just fine with large pry bars on the new track and blocks of wood under it. However it would have been far simpler with an extra pair of hands to help ‘walk’ the track on using the hydraulics. Once the track was on then I expanded it with Griselda my De Walt cordless grease gun, but any will do Smile Correct tension is 20-30mm droop in the centre of the track but I guess the lower end of that with new tracks.

Kubota KX71- 3 track motor

As well as the left hand track I also replaced the tracking motor on the same side. The motor on that side had been getting a touch lazy when it was hot so it seemed like a good idea to replace it whilst I had the machine apart. All the parts I bought from Astrak and not only where they very cheap they were delivered for buttons and arrived the day after!!!!

DSCN1644 DSCN1645 DSCN1649

The new track motor/final drive is not identical and a little modification of the pipework is required.

DSCN1647 DSCN1648 DSCN1650

However, a good selection of fittings are provided in the box along with the motor,


the only thing I had to do was steal some of darling wife’s garden hose to extend a return pipe Smile

Once I’d fitted the new motor and track I the machine about minus the cover on the track motor just to check for leaks, all was peachy so I boxed it up and moved onto another Kubota.

Lachie’s tracked dumper is powered by a single cylinder Kubota OC95-E2


a 9.5HP industrial engine that was needing a heater plug. To be honest, I was dreading this job as access looked impossible, however, once the cover plate was removed from the oil cooler it was actually pretty straight forward.

Once the old glow plug was out it was pretty obviously u/s, the new one was installed with a 12mm deep socket and I then went about wiring it up on its own dedicated circuit. The Kubota wiring and relay having seen better days.

DSCN1659 DSCN1660

A nice sturdy waterproof heavy duty starter button mounted on a piece of galvanised angle iron replacing all the junk wiring Smile The wee dumper now starts a treat and needs no coaxing with the blow lamp anymore Smile

Never been so glad to get back to work

After those two tasks it was a case of preparing for the annual ‘pig fest’ with the English TV producer, Swiss surgeon and Russian art dealer. That however requires a whole epic post of it’s own and as I’ve had no Internet since storm Dierdre it will have to wait until tomorrow. For now I’m back at work at least I’ll be able to post this.

November 27, 2018

Back to the ‘Bug’ :-)

Well, that’s it, the ‘two weeks on’ is by with and now the work can really begin Smile It’s only 19:00 and that will be my second glass of red in over a fortnight, thing is I’ve had em both in quick succession so have got a ‘real glow’ about me Smile Almost the end of November it is and what a spell of weather it’s been up here, sure the first day back was miserable and the second pretty draughty but since then it’s been boodly amazing.

 P1140351 DSCN1550 P1140356

Mornings like the one on the left, days like the centre and evenings like the right being the norm for the best part of a fortnight, I kid you not, I’ve never known a spell like this in late November.


At least not for so long and not with such high temperatures. I didn’t even see the first sign of frost until Sunday morning and that was in a valley that’s renowned for it. Ice being first spotted by myself on Monday whilst walking the dugs.


A wee bit of ‘stiff’ water in an old boat at Suisnish being my first experience of ice this winter. Sure, there has been frost at Sconser and even one or two places on Raasay but Sconser will not see sunshine now until February and there are one or two ‘frost pockets’ here on the island that are notorious.

November weather

Not here at Arnish though, just look at the temperatures, I even saw someone cutting their grass the other day!!!

Power chaos

We’ve no had a power cut here at Arnish in thirty years, one of the joys of ‘off grid’ life along with no ‘standing charges’ or utility bills. However Skye and the mainland were not so lucky with a landslide at Invergarry taking out a pylon and causing untold chaos throughout Skye, the Isles and the mainland Just check out the video Anyway, this baby caused mayhem both here, on Skye and beyond, with much of Skye still running off generators even late last week. I had to laugh when we were bunkering Hallaig on Thursday, upon asking the driver how the power outages had affected the oil depot he said ‘you couldn’t make it up’. Half of Skye was running off generators that needed filling twice a day, the fuel depot had no power and SSE were screaming for more fuel Smile

Anyway the glitches sent Hallaig’s electronics a little ‘pear shaped’ too and I’ve spent the best part of my ‘fortnight on’ trying to fix them Smile 

DSCN1582 DSCN1581 DSCN1580

The battery charger and its fuses being just a couple of the casualties of the unstable shore power. Luckily I’ve now left that in the capable hands of my ‘back to back’ Smile


Like I said, apart from the lack of phone (we have a mobile in the house) and Internet, Sonas wasn’t affected, but in the unlikely event of a lightning strike or other failure we have a back up system in the ‘bunker’ consisting of a 900Ah forklift battery bank and 3kW Outback inverter.

Tomorrow’s project

So, now I’ve bade Hallaig goodbye for a couple of weeks it’s down to my own projects, number 1 being the Isle of Raasay Distillery ‘bug’ which is having an alternator conversion. Next it will be Lachie’s tracked barrow which needs a heater plug (easier said than done) followed by a course in Glasgow on ‘Ship security’ and a trip to see Groove Armada play live for the first time in seven years.

I seen em live a few times and they are awesome, the ‘DJ sets’ are OK and we saw em at Eden and Rockness but live  is something else. Yours truly managed to get tickets for a sold out gig at SWG3 so that’s where I’ll be Friday night Smile ‘Supersylin’ and ‘shakin my arse’ Smile

So, that’s it really and I’ll just leave you with some pics I took in-between being buried in the guts of Hallaig Smile

 P1140363 P1140364

Sun rising in the mirror and moon setting in the windscreen. Beinn Fhadda at the Sconser fish farm.


New fire appliance for Raasay arrives.


Hallaig, Creachan Mor, Speedwell and Lustre at Raasay pier.

DSCN1577 DSCN1578 P1140359

Moonset over Braes, sunrise and Goat Island.

P1140361 P1140362

A misty Cuillin peak but I have no idea which one Sad smile

1000 casks

There may have been chaos with the power outages last week but that did not stop the Isle of Raasay Distillery filling its 1000th cask today Smile

Joseph and Iain busy filling number 850 of 2018 today, along with 150 from September last year that’ll be 1000 barrels of Raasay whisky in the making Smile

Poorly wee dug

DSCN1596 DSCN1597

Molly wearing the ‘collar of shame’, she is not impressed Sad smile

Create a free website or blog at