Life at the end of the road

April 10, 2017

On Holiday :-(

Been a while hey. Well there’s been a lot going on at ‘the end of the road’ and I’ve really not felt the urge to post or do anything on the Internet in fact.

The ‘Mountain Man’

Me old Pop passed away on the 18th March, peacefully and with my Mum at his bedside. It was in the Isle View care home in Aultbea on the shores of Loch Ewe where he’d been for the last 14 months. A better place he could not have been for the staff there are amazing and certainly ‘go the extra mile’ for their ‘guests’ and their families. He was buried within walking distance of his home for nigh on thirty years on the shores of Loch Duich and within sight of his beloved Five Sisters. That quintet of mountains that he climbed regularly, the name of which his dementia had him reciting over and over again for the last year or so of his life.

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My ‘back to back’ was kind enough to come in a couple of days early to let me away and I’ve been on holiday ever since. The first part of which was spent at the funeral, a lovely affair at the Inverinate village hall that was well attended and arranged expertly by Farky Macleod and his team at http://www.fmacleodfuneraldirectors.co.uk/ . The ladies of the Village Hall doing excellent ‘soup and sandwiches’ after internment.

The collection in aid of the Isle View residents fund raised £700 and we took the money up there last week on what I’m sure will not be our last visit. Over the last year or so the staff and some of the guests have become like old friends so I’m sure we’ll be returning. One thing for certain we’ll be going there on the 6th or 7th of May.

WWII

http://theracproject.org/festival/index.php

Booked the caravan park, bought a uniform and practising my ‘swing’ steps Smile 

South Pacific (1958 Film Soundtrack)

Also going to the movies Smile I kid you not, they are showing South Pacific in the Aultbea Village Hall on Sunday night. Now, I hate musicals but me Mam and Dad had this album or LP as it was called then, in their small collection and it just makes me smile thinking about it Smile

There’s also the Highland Swing Band on the Saturday night Smile

Kind of  a fitting venue as the Aultbea Village Hall was actually the cinema during the war too.

A short break

I am now sat in Girvan in ‘mum in laws’ kitchen with the sun shinning outside and I’m miserable as feck!!! I’d been having an absolutely spiffing couple of weeks at home with two machines on the go and a 6 ton dumper and now I’m stuck here wishing I was back home putting up a wind turbine or something Sad smile 

The Mitsubishi MM30SR

My plan for the month off had been to make a couple of roads and infill a bit of ground behind the new turbine base. The infill would involve piping a small burn and making a level area behind the turbine just to make installing the ‘gin pole’ for raising and lowering. It was major work for what was effectively making an annual job a little easier but at the end of it it would give me a nice flat area to park the caravan or a couple of trailers. It would also allow me easy access to the land adjacent to the croft with a quad or machine, impossible previously due to the valley cut by the burn.

For this I’d bought 12m of 300mm Twinwall drain pipe and hired a 6 Tonne dumper but I also needed to repair Lachie’s 3ton MM30SR digger first. I was converting the ‘grey import’ machine from electronic Kawasaki joysticks to manually operated cable controls that I’d purchased from http://www.hycon.co.uk/ . For this I’d purchased 5 x 1m cables, 2 x Joystick controls, 5 x adapters for the spool valves and one lever control for the ‘boom offset’.

The adapter was http://www.hycon.co.uk/Products/1088/156/20-KIT.html which wasn’t quite right but I knew that when I bought them and figured that I could modify them. First off the roller that goes through both the brass cable end and spool valve was 7mm and the MM30SR (Nachi) ones are 6mm. That I resolved by chopping up five M6 bolts to make the roller and then drilling 6.5mm holes at 90 degrees from the original. 

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This I managed to do at work during a three day spell when I was called back in to cover for my ‘back to back’ who was going ‘upstairs’ as skipper for a few days.

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Once back on holiday proper I got stuck into the actual machine and modifying the adapters.

 

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These just required filing out and the M5 screws supplied replacing with M4 threaded rod and Nyloc nuts.

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The cables and controls were then fitted but two of them operated the wrong way around, that was quickly resolved by swapping around the hydraulic pipes on two of the spool valves and ‘all was peachy’. A lick of paint and refitting the lower trim finished it nicely.

I gotta say I was well impressed with the result, OK, much more effort required than with electronic controls but you soon got used to it. All I had to do now was go and collect the dumper from 11 miles away Sad smile

 

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It was not a great day for ‘open top’ motoring and it took me the best part of an hour to reach home.

 

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Over the next week my son and I worked the machines pretty hard and they never missed a beat.

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Sad I know, but that is my kinda holiday Smile 

Ozzie and Django return

As part of the renovation of the old walled garden at Raasay House we’d loaned out Ozzie and Django to do a little rotovating. With funding now in place to employ two people to actually do the work proper and get some polytunnels up we went to collect them.

 

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It was great to have them back and they were certainly bigger and friendlier than when they left a couple of weeks ago. The two ‘boys’ went back into their regular enclosure for now as we knew we’d be away for a few days and it wasn’t fair on the ‘pig sitters’ asking them to go searching for two black boars at every feed time. There’s also a lot of tourists about just now so I didn’t want my neighbours to be held responsible for any damage they may do. They are very friendly pigs and I’d visions of them trying to climb into some new car at the end of the road Smile We have had pigs do that !!! pigs are very friendly creatures Smile

Looking back through the camera

Sadly my lack of enthusiasm for the Internet and blogging also left me bereft of the will to take pictures too, so there’s been precious little of those either.

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The Storr from the house at 6:20AM on the 23rd March,

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tis no wonder I don’t like going on holiday Smile

One of the days that I was on ‘call back’

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last ferry cancelled due to this

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unbelievably thick fog/mist.

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The ‘Clam Muncher’ Majestic TT28 scratching away for days in the narrows Sad smile

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Delta Marine’s http://www.delta-marine.co.uk/vessels/voe-jarl/ anchor handler Voe Jarl busy at the fish farm changing nets.

 

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A load of interesting looking stainless steel tanks for the distillery on the back of Ian S Roger’s Scania.

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A misty day at Brochel castle.

The highlights of the Girvan trip Smile

Well the prize has to go to a trip in Charlie’s WWII Willys Jeep,

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which I’d seen last year when collecting a wind turbine from him. This time he took my son and I for a spin around the forest tracks near his home.

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Pure awesome Smile

 

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An abandoned Hymac HM580C with Ailsa Craig in the background.

March 8, 2017

Pure ‘wabbit’ :-)

Golly gosh, feels like winter is over despite the hail, gale,  thunder and lightning of this morning. Sure it’s freezing outside in the biting westerly but the sun has a genuine warmth in it and it’s ‘light at both ends’ Smile That will be me arriving and leaving work for the first time this year in daylight. OK, not quite last night as it was a carpy day but it certainly felt that way.

So, that’s it, I am back at work and have spent the whole of my ‘rest period’ without doing any blogging. Sorry bout that but not only was I busy but I was feeling ‘pure wabbit’!!!! Twenty years I’ve known my Glaswegian wife and still she surprises me with her colloquialisms.

Half way through the fortnight off I’m struck with a virus that’s doing the rounds and floored with a sore throat that prevents me eating, sleeping and swallowing pain killers. The weather is amazing, I’ve a list of outdoor jobs ‘as long as my arm’ and I’m struck with my worst bout of ‘man flu’ in years. Of course ‘darling wife’ has already had it and gotten through it without a whimper. Not me, no I’m a guy so have to moan constantly, crave sympathy and think my own version of this bug is far, far worse than anyone else’s.

The most empathetic statement to come my way from the ‘egg lady’ was “you look pure wabbit”  http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/wabbit , needless to say I had to crawl to my computer and look it up.

Still, she was dead right, I was Smile

The first task

The ‘rest period’ started off pretty ‘full on’ with the annual visit from the ‘English Director, the Swiss Surgeon and the Russian Art Dealer’ who assemble from the four corners of Europe to do their yearly butchery. The two Tamworth’s we’d been fattening for them had come on nicely but it was time for them to go and I had to do the ‘prep work’.

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The 100lt cast iron boiler had to be put in place and the chimney installed. This is to keep a constant supply of boiling water for dehairing the pigs, though ideally you don’t want to be using it on the creature over 80 degrees. The idea is to melt the fat in the hair follicles but not cook the pig. The cast iron bath was put in position at the correct working height and a drain made up to take the waste water away. The cast iron bath soon knocks down the water temp and then a hose of cold into the boiler cools that down a little. Temperature of the water being constantly monitored with an IR thermometer.

As it was the ‘wee girls’ last day we let them in the garden to clear up after the birds.

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This meant that they were happy and content right up to being led to the barn door to meet their end.

FIGURE 5

The ‘end’ being a .22 bullet at point ‘a’, roughly the centre of a cross drawn between the eyes and ears but from straight ahead as in ‘a’ on the right. If you don’t you’ll miss the brain and the animal may suffer, unlikely if you are slitting the throat too to collect the blood but many folk don’t. If you are collecting the blood then get someone to hold the rear of the pig slightly higher and pump the forelegs. Please don’t click on the images if you’re squeamish.

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We had both pigs slaughtered, de haired and split down the spine in around three hours which is pretty good. That was start to finish with all the clearing up done too, a far cry from the first ones we ever did which took around four hours each. The secret is most definitely in having plenty of hot water to hand and having it at just the right temperature, too cool and it won’t come out, too hot and you’ll burn yourself and cook the meat.

I have to confess that when I do slaughter my own for my own consumption, which incidentally is all you can legally do, then my most ambitious project is usually sausages. Not these chaps though, they go the ‘whole hog’ so to speak, salamis, chorizo, blood pudding, brawn, cotechino, Parma type ham and a whole host of goodies.

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Here is my share of the proceedings brawn, sausage, cotechino and various salamis for hanging. They’d worked flat out the whole weekend to produce these delicacies, luckily they took a few hours off on Friday night and I went round for dinner of brain and humus, kidney and paprika, followed by a main of pork fillet and broccoli.

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All washed down with a fine Japanese single malt Smile

More chooks

I dunno whether we killed them all or if the arrival of the two girls we just slaughtered put them off but since last September we’ve not seen any sign of the dreaded mink that killed so many of the wife’s hens. Personally I’m convinced it was the two Tamworth’s that did the trick, for when they first arrived we kept them in section of the hen house until they were too large to get in and out of the hens ‘pop hole’. After that we kept them in one of the fallow hen runs for a few weeks prior to letting them out on the hill. I’m certain that their smell has kept the unwelcome American import at bay, so buoyed up by that belief we got some more.

Donald the Hen had a new batch of ‘point of lay’ Lohmann’s  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lohmann_Brown for sale so on Saturday we paid him a visit.

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After some of Katy’s fine home baking and coffee, we left Struan with 8 new chooks in a cardboard box. Donald ‘lives and breathes’ hens and not only are they very favourably priced he’s always on hand for advice and can also supply excellent hen house, feeders and drinkers. Donald can be contacted on 01470 572 213 or via Facebook.

Once home the chooks were put in a section of the hen shed adjoining the current five we still have. The various 8’ x 8’ sections of the shed are separated but have mesh windows between them so the hens can see each other. This gives them chance to get used to each other and vastly reduces bullying and ‘hen pecking’ when they are finally mixed.

The Mitsubishi MM30SR 

One of my main preoccupations this last fortnight has been Lachie’s 3ton digger

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which has been taxing me to say the least. Basically this far eastern ‘grey import’ is far too complicated for its own good with sensors on the bucket, boom and dipper, two electronic joysticks on a CANBUS network to a large CPU under the seat.

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My initial optimism at finding this dodgy connection on the unloading valve solenoid soon faded.

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Replacing the plug made absolutely no difference and many days of tracing wires, checking sensors, plugs and connections proved fruitless. Of course having absolutely no information, wiring or piping diagrams didn’t help and the greatest help I got ont tinternet  http://www.heavyequipmentforums.com/threads/mitsubishi-mm30sr.7464/#post-225364 was soon exhausted.

This left me with three options, 1 to buy a proper ‘plug and play’ kit from IM Dynamics http://www.imdynamics.com.au/  in Australia at $2000 AUD plus taxes and shipping. This would bypass the CPU and interface directly with the original Kawasaki joysticks. However IMD recommend sending the joysticks to them for checking and or overhaul, another $40 – $400AUD plus shipping and taxes. Option 2 was to try and make my own electric kit up using new electrical joysticks and ten relays, doable, but without a wiring diagram I couldn’t figure out what each of the six wires on each of the five spool valve solenoids did. I guess I could have worked it out with ‘trial and error’ but they were not easily accessible and I’d have had to do an awful lot of wiring and cable crimping. Which, lets face it isn’t ideal on something that has no cab, sits outside all its life and operates in mud and carp. So, I opted for making up a cable operated and joystick system from http://www.hycon.co.uk/products/byhierarchy/42/156.html . That’s been ordered and with a bit of luck will be here for the start of my month holiday Smile Can’t wait Smile

Meanwhile I made up a tool to manually operate the Nachi spool valves

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from a sheet of 3mm steel and some M6 bolts.

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The spacing between the fulcrum and spool valve is 25mm but I slotted one of the bolt holes slightly to allow for it moving through and arc. The spools themselves are 14mm and the spacing of the retaining bolts is 35mm.

The tool works really well and allows me to easily move the machine now without danger of clattering myself with the boom or cab.

Yamaha YFM350 Bruin steering column bushes

Having abandoned the digger I turned my attention to the Yamaha quad and its worn steering column bushes and bearings. The top bearing is just a plastic bush that I’ve previously replaced, often greased and occasionally ground down to reduce the play. This time however I got a full kit that included the bottom ball bearing set and seals.

First of all the whole front plastic panel and handle bars need to come off, all straight forward, just a few bolts and electrical plugs, none of which you can mix up. Then a 22mm nut and split pin off the bottom of the column after which it should lift out and present you with the bottom bearing carrier.

 

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The top seal can just be prized out with a screwdriver, the bearing itself presents a problem as it’s held in with a large fine threaded retainer which is 30mm AF. I overcame this by ‘double nutting’ an M20 bolt and using an 30mm spanner.

I had to make up a puller to remove the bearing after prizing out the lower seal but the bearing broke Sad smile

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Luckily I had a small grinding stone and cut through the hardened race with a die grinder.  Built it back up with plenty of grease, job’s a good un Smile

Persian rug anyone

At some point during the fortnight off I’m working away in the barn when this chap shows up selling hand made rugs from Iran.

 

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I kid you not and they were lovely rugs too Smile Now we rarely get the ‘door to door’ types here, the Jehovah’s witness’s every couple of years, the Mormons every decade and one kitchen salesman in thirty years so there’s no need to be impolite. Indeed I seriously considered buying one off Asa, who hailed from Skipton in Yorkshire, not a lotta miles from where I was born. Still, I took his phone number and promised to give him a tinkle if we ever got fed up with our concrete floor Smile Well, you never know, I gotta say though, it’s unlikely, I do love that warm feeling from the UFH as you wander over the industrial flooring.

 What else

Well, it’s been a while and me memory is carp but looking through the pictures it looks like the ‘pirates’ were out scratching away.

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The ‘seven a side’ clam dredger Novante was busy ploughing up the Raasay Narrows again

We’d also a good few commercials delivering to the new distillery.

 

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Ian S Roger’s Scania delivering plate heat exchangers and JG Stampers MAN bringing in a 22000lt water tank one day.

The turbine base

I had hoped to get more work done on the wind turbine mast but my ‘man flu’ cut that short and the best I could manage was fitting the winching anchor point.

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The positioning of this is quite crucial and it took quite a while to bore a 32mm hole some 300mm down into the bedrock so I could bond some M30 stud in there.

Anyways, I got all that done as well as almost doing my VAT return, so not bad really.

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