Life at the end of the road

February 28, 2022

The ‘weekend has landed’ :-)

Dunno about ‘landed’ it’s almost over with now, 21:00 the dugs have already beaten me to bed


and it won’t be long before I join them. It’s been a grand weekend with a good constant blast of south wind for the entire couple of days. Which unusually for wind from that quarter has been on the whole pretty dry. Today totally and yesterday mainly, just as well really cos my mate came up to slate his roof Smile Having arrived on Friday around 14:00 and probably spent all afternoon moving his slates for the fourth time out of a hire van, this time into the Mule and along the track to Torran.

After the usual morning’s dug walking, this time to Calum’s croft

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where and I admired and wondered, not for the first time as to the purpose of that wall built out from the gable of the barn. It’s beautifully made but what for, was it an unfinished project that never quite made it to the top of the ‘to do’ list. In between building the road, doing the post and running lighthouse relief boat he was a busy chap

After the morning’s perambulation I had my muesli and went over to Torran to see how my Mate was getting on

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which was just fine without me. So after a cup of coffee I left him to it and returned to my own project, that of fitting my new bigger inverter.

Out for dinner


Saturday night being a blurry memory of dinner and wine at the Schoolhouse then somehow wobbling back home on the quad.

A BIG switch

Most people connect their inverters directly to the battery bank, perhaps through a BIG fuse and in the past I’ve been no different. I guess the reason for not using some kind of isolator is that for the currents involved the cost of something suitable is astronomical. However in recent years I’ve been able to acquire several huge three pole motorised switches that are used on our hybrid ferry to switch the huge lithium ion battery banks. The ferry has four of them costing the best part of £1K each and they are replaced every two years because the switching mechanism fails.


The beauty is that the actual switch bit is just fine and it’s a modular design and with a little work they make an absolutely first class HEAVY DUTY isolator. You just need to pull it apart, remove the contacts and fashion a handle to operate them.

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A bit of work on the brackets to make it suitable for mounting.


Remove one of the contact blocks and there you have it Winking smile


The cable tie is just to make sure I don’t move the switch to ON whilst fitting the inverter.


Finishing that off will be Monday’s project before going back to work on Tuesday.

Fell asleep at the wheel

Well, that’s it Monday morning 6:59 and I had to give up on blogging last night. I was pretty wrecked after a most enjoyable day’s pottering mainly with my inverter but not exclusively so.


I’ve not seen this chap for a while, probably been too windy for him but he was back in the garden looking for worms yesterday morning before I went over to Torran to see how my Pal was getting on.

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Just fine without me was the answer to that so after coffee I returned home to my own projects.

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These included  doing a little work on my 5.4M Searider in preparation for the up and coming month’s holiday Smile

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Dunno where this workboat was heading but it was probably to a fish farm to lay moorings or something.

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After spending the best part of two days changing the tyres on my quad I thought it was about time I had a proper ‘bead breaker’ but I’ve never seen one that’s suitable. They’re either made in China and not ‘man enough’ or made in China and too expensive. That was until I saw this vintage Stenor tool on eBlag, a pure cast steel relic from the 1960’s just like the one I used ‘back in the day’ when I was an apprentice mechanic Surprised smile Well I received it yesterday and just can’t wait to use it Winking smile

At almost 8:00AM now and the makings of a good day ahead I’d better walk the dugs and feed the pigs before turning my attention once more to my Victron Quattro 48/10000.

February 21, 2022

Where to begin

7:00AM and I’m not long up, the wind shifted to the north west during the night already it’s heralding a better day ahead with a steady stream of fishing boats heading north along the Skye shore. I guess they’ll be in the lee of the land for shelter. Sundays steady near gale force westerly may have veered and eased but it’s still quite lumpy out there. I may still be sat in my PJ’s not even having started on the strong black coffee that kick starts my day but I was up at 3:00AM Surprised smile The wind being so steady and constant that I wanted to put a long hot wash on to do my towels to put an immersion on for a couple of hours. That done and with my turbines still milling away I went back to bed to finish my well earned sleep. The Sabbath had been a busy one Smile

Air locked

The wind mean speed being 25MPH for day with gusts of double that. Added to that the frequent sunny spells and showers had given me the ‘perfect storm’ for energy production. So, after feeding the pigs Bonzo and I went to check out the Powerspout and turn on it’s second nozzle. The penstock must have had air in it when I commissioned it Saturday cos this morning its output as indicated on the Victron 250/60 MPPT controller was almost double what it had been when I started it.

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The image on the left showing 51V at 3A (153W) and the one on Sunday morning 53.5V at 7A around 375W. I guess that the penstock had been turned off for so long it must have had air in it somewhere down its 250M of pipe. Anyway I couldn’t wait to go and investigate with the wee dog.

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First stop was to check the forebay and inlet before going down the overgrown path to the turbine shed by the shore.

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The tide was pretty high with the sea almost cutting off apiece of land opposite the shed and turning it into an island.

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Upon entering the ‘turbine house’ the first thing I noticed was the almost doubling of dynamic head on the pressure gauge, even with both jets open it was now reading


54PSI or 3.7Bar as opposed to 28PSI or 1.9Bar on start up Smile 

Sure enough once back up the ‘power station’ the output was a far healthier

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15Amps or almost 775W Smile

Mr Lister is flat Sad smile

After that we collected Molly from the rear of the Land Rover and went in for a well earned breakfast before heading over to Torran with mail and parcels to give Mr Lister a run.

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I’d a feeling that Mr Lister wasn’t going to start, which turned out to be the case, his batteries had gone flat and I had to use the handle. However the ST2 Startomatic burst into life easily and my meter indicated he was charging OK. The Lister ‘Start O Matic’ is designed to start automatically one you turn on a load (around 60W). It will then continue to run until everything is switched off and the load reduces to below the 60W threshold and it does all of this without a single chip or PCB. Being designed in the 50’s it does it all with relays, coils, contacts and solenoids. It’s a very reliable system if not a little ‘agricultural’ however the battery charging circuit is a little basic and designed for charging the batteries over long periods of usage. You have to bear in mind these units were designed to run 12 hours a day 7 days a week and for that it is perfectly adequate. Consequently if left unused for long periods of time without disconnecting the batteries they tend to go flat as there is always a slight current in the ring main. So after firing him up I went back home to get a serious charger and left him running.


Running repairs

With all the rain lately the Torran track has been getting into a bit of a state so during my trips to and from the Schoolhouse I put a shovel in the back of the Mule. A trick that the Council roads department would be wise to emulate when they often send a 7m long empty pick up truck over to Raasay to read the Sun. At least that’s what they appear to do Smile A few strokes with a shovel to get the water off the roads would go long way to reducing the need for repairing potholes.

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Too much power Smile

Despite my best efforts to use all the electricity I’ve been making by washing all the towels, bedding, leaving all the lights on tumble drying everything. My ‘dump loads’ have been doing overtime, making my bunker and power station very warm. The ‘dump loads’ are wire wound resistors that dissipate excess electricity as heat and I have a lot of them.

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Around 10kW in the ‘power station shed another 11kW in my workshop


and around 8kW in the bunker.


The two in the bunker comprise of that big silver box which contains the 6kw wind turbine dump and that wire wound resistor at the base of it which isn’t really big enough at 1kW. It should be around 2kW but it was all I had at the time and the new ones I’d ordered before Christmas from Farnell were on back order. Well they finally arrived the other day so I fitted them last night.


These resistors providing a welcome boost to my air source heat pump who’s inlet is right above them Winking smile All you ever need to know about ‘Using a high power resistor as a dump load’ is contained in Hugh Piggott’s excellent blog.

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