Life at the end of the road

February 21, 2019

Back to the shed :-)

Filed under: animals, Avon Searider, daily doings, life off grid, listers, pigs, shed/house — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:45 pm

OK, it’s not actually a shed more of a ground mount PV array that I can park the Searider under to keep the sun and weather off it. Sort of a car port on steroids I guess, whatever you call it, it’s certainly gonna be man enough to stand up to the West Coast weather that’s for sure. Callum Findlay, sole proprietor of the Raasay Sawmill and shed designer/builder extraordinaire has seen to that. Me, I’m just the apprentice in this project Smile I guess it’s been three weeks since we got the sturdy frame up and in the intervening period I’ve gotten 12 x Trina 300W solar panels and all the mounting hardware to go on the roof whilst Callum was busy cutting rafters, purlins and boards for the roof and sides.

  Pigs and Listers

Anyway, I’m getting a little ahead of myself, the shed was today, it was pigs and a Lister yesterday, oh and rain, lots and lots of rain. A friend had needed help removing his pigs from a croft they were busy rotovating and myself and A, N, Other had offered to help.

P1140610 P1140611 

First thing I had to do though was remove the 12 solar panels from the trailer, easier said than done in a gale of south wind on your own Smile

That done, the trailer sides and roof fitted we set off south to try and get the two beauties into the trailer.

P1140612 P1140613 P1140615

The girls were not impressed and to cut a long story short my neighbour went for a mud bath, we all got very wet and the two pigs, as far as I know are still charging about the field Smile

After all that excitement I found myself a nice leisurely job on Harry, my trusty Lister HR2 15kVA generator. Truth is, Harry is much larger than we need, a 7 or 8kVA would suffice, but he was dirt cheap and had only done 50 hours running when I bought him despite being 20 years old then. He is over 40 years old now and has still only done 3300 hours so still a ‘spring chicken’ in Lister terms.

Lister fuel solenoid

If I’m honest the fuel solenoid stopped working properly over a year ago which effectively meant that Harry wouldn’t start unless you helped him. Sure he would stop fine but the fuel solenoid needed help to energise. This was never really too much of a problem as the generator doesn’t run much and we have a meter in the kitchen that tells us if the batteries are low.


Anyway, I thought it was about time I fixed it, especially with me going away next shift for a couple of weeks. The Hallaig will be covering for Lochinvar again at Lochaline so we may have house/dog sitters in. The solenoid is just an electro magnet that once energized lifts up a lever on the fuel pump allowing the fuel to flow to the injectors. It was working but needed a little help to operate.

 P1140616 P1140617

The return spring seemed to be too strong for a start so I replaced that for a weaker one as it looked like it had snapped at some point and been shortened. I do have a vague memory of doing this but the main issue seemed to be that the plunger wasn’t in line with the operating lever so it was binding as it travelled upwards. Not sure how this could have happened but a little adjustment with a 5/16” and 7/16” spanner plus some WD40 soon sorted it.


Plunger off.


Solenoid energised and fuel on Smile

The shed

Today was a vast improvement on yesterday weather wise, OK, it wasn’t absolutely dry but near enough to not need oilskins and no where near as windy as forecast.

 P1140621 P1140622

Callum and Jay arrived around 9:30, just in time for ‘second breakfast’ of eggs fried in nduja and a fresh pot of coffee. Sure the muesli and banana I’d had for breakfast number one had been healthier but home grown eggs, pork fat and chili beats the carp out of it for ‘hitting the spot’ Smile

 P1140623 P1140624

Callum had pre cut the rafters and purlins and just like the rest of the construction they fitted perfectly.

P1140625 P1140626

I concentrated on fitting the rafters whilst Callum got on with the purlins.

P1140628 P1140629

After 17:00 I ‘broke out’ the Magners Smile

P1140630 P1140632

By 18:30 it was getting to dark to see the ‘bubble’


so I ‘called it a day’ Smile

December 5, 2017

Three days ‘on my back’ :-)

Well, the old clutch replacement turned into a bit of an epic, a job that I could have easily done in a day turned into three days lying on a cold concrete floor. Still, the last two times that I’ve done a gearbox replacement or clutch on the ‘Old Girl’ it’s been outside so I’ve that to be thankful for.

I left you on Saturday night having successfully removed the old gearbox and transfer box as one unit then split them apart on the floor. I had fully intended refitting the original LT230 transfer box from the Land Rover despite it being a little noisy. I knew the box was in good condition and the noise was just from some rusty gears I fitted a few years ago The original gears failed in 2014 and I replaced them with some rusty ones given me by a mate. This was only ever intended as a temporary measure as they were really badly corroded and whined worse than the ‘wee dug’ in the car. And as anyone who has been in a car with Molly will testify, that really is bad Sad smile I dunno if my hearing got worse, the gears got quieter, I learned to live with them or a combination of all three but over time I got used to it and replacement seemed pointless.

LT230 Ratios

As my Land Rover was built in 1986 before the 19J turbo diesel and was originally fitted with the gutless but ‘bombproof’ 2.5NA diesel developing a staggering 68HP it had a transfer gear ratio of 1.667:1 the rusty gears that I fitted were from a later vehicle giving a ratio of 1.410:1. This is was the stock ratio for all 90,110 and Defender vehicles for the next few decades and still is as far as I know. It worked well on my Land Rover as I’d fitted the later 19J turbo diesel engine which was a much improved 85HP with only marginal sacrifice in fuel consumption. The slightly higher ratio transfer box restoring the original ‘economy’ of around 22MPG without sacrificing any of the rather lame towing ability.

A popular mod among Defender anoraks is to fit the Discovery transfer box with its 1.222 ratio for improved economy, better cruising and enhanced motorway performance. Now, I’d had one of these Disco boxes sat in my shed for 3 years  but decided against fitting it on account of my frequent trips up Calum’s road with 3.5t on the back. The oversize tyres on the ‘Old Girl’ already made her pretty ‘tall geared’ as it was. I knew the box was lovely and quiet as I’d driven the whole vehicle home before removing it and the engine.


On balance it seemed a saner option to keep the 1:410 ratio, however, upon splitting the gearbox from the transfer box I discovered that the input shaft gear was worn out where the gearbox output shaft mates to it. In view of this I decided to fit the Disco transfer box, something I may live to regret Sad smile Still, it’s far easier just replacing the tranny box than the gearbox and it would save me the cost of a new 1.410 input gear (the disco one is cut differently to make it quieter).

Now there is acres of info on the Internet about this conversion and most of it will tell you it’s a ‘straight swap’, well not quite. The Defender handbrake mounts are in a different position, Defender on left, Disco on right.

P1120938 P1120939

Fortunately, lodged in the recesses of my brain I remembered something about this and sorted it before fitting the box.

  P1120943 P1120944

The holes are 40mm apart and easily tapped M8 x 1.25 Smile 

In she goes

It was going really well on Sunday and having adopted a leisurely approach to this job I even found time to go for a walk with wife and dog.

IMAG0405 IMAG0406

Heading off down to Port Arnish where we managed to do a little ditching and open up a few drains. If only Highland Regional Council would adopt the same approach they’d save a fortune on road repairs, they have the men, they have the shovels, all they need to do is go out in the rain and use them!!!

Anyways, once I got back I lifted in the gearbox having first aligned up the clutch using a 22mm copper pipe which is the perfect size for a Defender centre plate and flywheel bush.

P1120932 P1120933 P1120935 P1120936

Couple of first class dodges here, first one being to put a block of wood over the gear lever aperture in the transmission tunnel and wrap a ratchet strap around it. With a jack at the ar5e end of the gearbox and the strap at the front I carefully aligned it up and shoved it home.


Though not before I fastened the clutch pushrod to the release fork with a cable tie, nothing worse than that falling into the bell housing as you pull it home.


Several dozen pairs of latex gloves and one boiler suit later I had it all in, transfer box on and called it a day. I was pure wrecked and me back killing me from lying on the concrete all day, it was time for a roast pork dinner and some wine.


By rights there wasn’t that much left to do on Monday but I still managed to make a meal of it. Once all back together I took it for a road test early afternoon and it wouldn’t stay in high ratio Sad smile Despite it only being a simple adjustment it took me way into the evening to sort it. The rod I had to adjust was just plain impossible to access on the ‘Old Girl’. On any other Land Rover it would have just been a matter of removing the centre seat and lifting up an inspection panel held down by four bolts. Sadly that just aint possible on C530 VSX due to all the insulation I’ve fitted Sad smile

Eventually by cutting a 13mm spanner in half, doing some contortions and using a long screwdriver to ‘run down’ the nut I sorted it and by Monday dinner time she was ‘good to go’. Seems OK as far as the gearing goes but we’ll no for sure tomorrow once I stick 3.5t on the back and try and drag it up ‘Calum’s road’ Smile


What should have been a very productive day turned into a rather chilled one which saw me just pottering around mainly and cleaning up three days mess in the barn. Whilst I had given the ‘Old girl’ a blast to Brochel and back last night I decided to do the 24 mile round trip to Raasay Engineering and back to collect gas.


I arrived there to find an old friend sat in Simon’s trailer, Sammy the Lister ST7 generator that had powered my house for some 10 years!!! This 1978 beauty had run 12 hours a day for 18 years before I got him and has still never had the heads off. Simon has been using it to run a welder and said she still starts first time and runs sweet.


It wasn’t the only Lister there either, here’s a marinised HR2 from an old lighthouse tender, looks pretty corroded but I bet it’s still a runner. These Lister engines are pure indestructible.

Once back home and feeling well chuffed with my quiet and slick gearbox/transfer box combination I thought about having a damn good clean up. As many will testify, I am not the tidiest of workers.

First off though, with a forecast of a fine morning and pish afternoon, I went over to Torran to see the neighbours.


Taking a spare gas cylinder with me then doing some work at the Schoolhouse on the way.

DSCN0008 DSCN0011 DSCN0010

The Lister ST2 ‘Start O Matic’ that I fitted in 2006 was due a run. These generators where the ‘weapon of choice’ for many a highland house or estate back in the day before major electrification. They would automatically start up if anything over 60W was switched on then shutdown when everything was switched off. This one is wired up through a Studer inverter to start via an internal switch to those two light bulbs. Its duties are generally restricted to the washing machine as the solar/hydro and 2.2kW inverter copes with just about everything else, however I do generally run it up for an hour or two every month or so.

Whilst the Lister was chugging away Molly and I went onto Torran cottage for coffee and craic Smile

DSCN0012 DSCN0013

Then it was back home to deal with my gas cylinders and the big clean up.


Certainly seems bigger in there now I’m not tripping over that crate with the ex army gearbox in it Smile

DSCN0014 P1120941 P1120942

Anyway, that’s it, after 7:00 now, time to feed the animals and really test the Land Rover with a heavy load on the back.

Older Posts »

Create a free website or blog at