Life at the end of the road

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 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 4×4×4 . 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  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.


July 31, 2015

Two parties :-)

Filed under: daily doings, Land Rover, life off grid, New hybrid ferry — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 6:24 am

Sorry to have been a little lax on the posting front recently but I kinda got distracted. There were the usual late nights tinkering about in the house after a ‘hard day at the office’ but the truth is I’ve been ‘on the ran dan’ Smile It is after all ‘Glesgie Fair’ , Raasay’s traditional ‘busy time’ a time of ceilidhs, parties, drink and catching up with old friends. It’s also the time that the Raasay single track roads are filled with cars that appear to have no reverse gear. A time of milk, egg and bread shortages in the shop and ‘panic on the ferry’. The Hallaig is twice the size of the old MV Loch Striven and we’ve never left anyone behind but folk still seem to get in flap about missing it.


Well aff we went on our annual crusade,
Away oer tae Rothesay, wae oor buckets and spades,
We set aff fae Blantyre, away tae Wymess Bay
Praying we could keep the ticket inspector away.

I stood at the jetty looking in awe,
At this massive big ship that would take us awa,
I stood at the bow like Jack in the Titanic,
But there was nae Rose fur me, just ma maw in a panic.

We hurried aff the gangway oan tae dry land,
There was nae time tae stop or tae take anybody’s hand,
Up tae the digs we would venture,
A one bedroom flat wae nine of us, now that was an adventure.

On to the beach we would go,
Taking turns tae go in’tae the water, that was four below,
The parents they would sit there wae their wee carry oot,
Watching the weans gaun fur a dook.

The fortnight was spent, fishing and putting,
It’s the aw ye could dae, cause ye got it fur nothing,
We had fish every night, cause we got it fur free,
Oan a Sunday ma granny, went tae the Glenburn for a spot of high tea.

Now if we were good we would get a treat,
It would be off to Zavaroni’s for aw the ice cream you could eat,
Then on to the Winter Gardens for a shot oan the shows,
Oh how good those days were, nobody know’s.
I have fond memories there,
Especially at “THE GLESGA FAIR.”

Jimmy Whelan (copyright) 2009

I came across that wee ditty quite by accident but it did bring a smile to my face, specially after spending many a ‘dry docking’ opposite the winter gardens and just along the road from Zavaroni’s ice cream parlour Smile Of course that was always in December when Rothesay was a ghost town but I lived with a Glesgie lass long enough to know all about ‘doon the watter’ Smile

The ‘Old Boathouse’

The first ‘sesh’ was last weekend, and I can’t actually remember what the occasion was

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but it was very lively and went on long into the night.

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Excellent tunes, a bonfire on the beach, great craic and it didn’t rain!!!! there was the odd midge or two right enough but alcohol in the bloodstream is a good cure for that.

The last week or so on the ferry was busy enough with quite a few days seeing more than 100 cars shipped, not to mention the ‘Moscow Motorcycle Club’ and three Harley’s.


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They were very noisy Smile

On the ‘technical side’ we’d a few services due on the Volvo D13 generators

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so I drew off a couple of samples and sent them off to Spectro for analysis. Laboratory examination of the lubrication oil is routine on all Hallaig’s machinery and records are kept to discover any trends that may indicate problems ahead. Things like sodium can indicate sea water ingress, fuel, copper, debris, chrome and tin could be signs of injector, bearing or hydraulic ram issues on the horizon. The samples being taken using sterile bottles and a special little vacuum pump.


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One thing it cannot do is tell you when a small coolant pressure sensor is about to fail, and this one, buried on the side of DG2 did just that. You could probably get something similar for your car for £25 from a dealer or £2.50 off eBay, buy it from Volvo Penta and it’ll set you back a mere £250!!!! No wonder the ferry is expensive. I replaced an engine heater some time ago, a mere snip at £600 from Volvo, a similar German manufactured item can be had for your car for £70!!!!

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This little box on the wall that I had to replace on my last day ‘takes the biscuit’ though, the failure of one tiny 24v relay on the PCB means the replacement of the entire box at a mere £900!!!!! You just couldn’t make it up.

The first night in Sonas!!!

With us heading off on a short holiday this weekend I had to get some jobs done on the ‘Old Girl’, a set of rear discs and pads being the priority.


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The rear nearside one was ‘down to the metal’, no doubt something to do with shifting 2 ton loads of stone and gravel with Lachie’s tipping trailer. Despite having a great big dry shed I had to do it outside on account of all the carp in my barn!!!!

Wednesday night was party number two in the boatshed and was yet another lively affair, this time to celebrate a friends 60th birthday. It was a ‘bring and share’ affair and as such a great selection of snacks, savouries, drink and sweets appeared along with the many guests.


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A new battery bank for ‘Number 3’ was also moved into position and a Voltacon 5kVA inverter charger installed as a ‘back up’ for the Trace SW4548e.


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It’s a lot easier doing it with a telehandler than the ‘old fashioned’ method I can tell you, these 24 forklift truck cells weigh over 50kg each.

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The 900Ah bank I installed 10 years ago was getting a little tired and my new neighbours decided on some major upgrades to the system. These include 3kW extra solar PV and another inverter just in case the Trace dies again, on the face of it this Voltacon seems to good to be true. Made in China (of course) it is sold under many names PIP 4048, MPI Solar, etc and YouTube is full of info on them, most of it pretty positive. Of course it’s not in the same league as an SMA, Victron, Outback or Trace inverter/charger but it does score over all of them in one vital area. All these inverters include an MPPT solar charger and this one is 60amps so will happily take the new solar array.

Anyway, it’s well after 7:00am now, pishing with rain for a change and we’ve just spent the first night in the new hoose!!! Not that it’s anywhere near ready but the beds arrived yesterday along with wifey’s mum so we gave her our room in the caravan and set up camp in the ‘master bedroom’ Smile It’s just a temporary affair as the place is still like a building site with stuff everywhere but it was rather nice.

Bhrusda leaves

The MV Loch Bhrusda that’s been berthed behind Hallaig for the best part of six weeks finally left for Kishorn on Thursday.

Loch Bhuisdale

I say ‘finally’ because it was a bit ‘tight’ in there at the spring tides and the unseasonal weather could well have caused the odd missed sailing at low water this weekend.

Loch Bhuisdale 2

She’s a great boat but a tad noisy and thirsty burning around 2000lt a day on the Raasay route to move 18 cars, Hallaig can ship 23 cars quietly for less than 3000lt a week!!!

Calor Gas lorry

Oh dear, the gas delivery was a little late this week Sad smile Thanks to George Rankine for the last three images and now I’d better go and deal with the hens, it’s almost 8:00am and still pishing down

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