Life at the end of the road

November 26, 2016

Just a typical week aboard :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, Trucks and plant — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 7:20 pm

Well, I managed to get into work without any drama for the rest of the week, mainly on account of the temperature rising but also because the gritter arrived on Wednesday.

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A nice shiny Mercedes that made a splendid job on all the worst bits, they didn’t do the whole road right enough but I guess they only had so much salt on board and had to ‘eek’ it out. There are still no piles at the side of the road right enough and who knows when they’ll be back but it’s a start I suppose.

After Monday’s episode I must confess to not having slept so well that night for I had a dilemma, what to do about Tuesday morning! Sure, I was pretty confident I’d get down the road at the helm of the ‘Old Girl’, after all, I’ve some 15 years of experience in getting up and down that road, even when a snow plough and JCB couldn’t.

Thing is, my boy was going to accompany me once more and should I let him drive? Would he want to after Monday’s epic? Well a cold frosty morn greeted us as we departed at 6:00am and I nervously asked him if he wanted to drive, half hoping he wouldn’t. It was of course a superfluous question and brimming with confidence he jumped in. A touch more cautious and with invaluable experience under his belt he delivered me safely to the Hallaig and we sailed on time Smile

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It was a lovely morning indeed looking down towards The Moll and Scalpay at just after 8:00am, not that I saw a great deal of it as we’d a couple of engineers aboard.


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Gary from Macgregor Cargotec working on the hydraulic pumps and Owen from Mitchell Power Systems  on the Volvo’s. 

Gary was resetting the hydraulic pumps which had been ‘expertly’ adjusted at dock Sad smile whilst Gary was checking all the alarms and shutdowns on the main engines as part of the annual overhaul. He was also doing a modification on the belt tensioners for the water circulating pump at the front of the Volvo D13.

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The new (green one on the left) is thicker than the old one and is fitted using longer bolts. Apparently some have been failing in service so Volvo are changing them under warranty. Ours showed no signs of wear or imminent failure though but they probably have an easy life compared to some industrial engines.


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DG3 had also been smoking and running a high exhaust gas temperature but low boost pressure. Turbo failure was suspected but it turned out to be a faulty ‘waste gate’ actuator. The waste gate is designed to open as turbo boost pressure increases to prevent over pressure. Too much boost means too much heat and that can lead cracked heads, pistons and or gasket failure. I guess our high exhaust temperature would have been caused by too much fuel rather than the boost pressure. Normally as pressure increases so does the fuel but it would seem DG3 was increasing fuel without pressure. The waste gate was actually working cos we checked it, obviously it wasn’t working enough Sad smile Anyway, Owen sorted it, like he usually does Smile Owen is moving to ‘pastures new’ next week and I guess Mitchell’s and ourselves will miss him, he’s a damn good technician!!!

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It wasn’t just the engine room that was busy, so was the deck, not with traffic, it was pretty quiet on that front. Sandy and Finlay were busy splicing new ropes up for the winter ahead.

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Though there were a few days when winter seemed a long way off.

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There were even days that I felt like going clam diving again, the Ullapool registered Auk having been in the narrows for most of the week.

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Guess what

We’ve a big job on the horizon next Sunday as one of the hydraulic rams fitted at dock needs replacing!! so I’ve been doing some ‘prep work’.

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First you take an old steel salmon cage hinge then cut the tapered end off with a cutting disc. Well you cut most of it all the way around as a 115mm disc isn’t deep enough, then you twist the end off with some BIG adjustables.

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Then with the end lopped off you mark its ‘point of balance’

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and drill a 20mm hole, which takes quite a while Sad smile

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Next step is to insert a 100mm M20 threaded rod though said hole and retire to do lots of paperwork ready for the next stage.

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Voila, several sheets of paperwork later a nice big drift for belting out ramp hinge pins. The long handle means I can keep my hands clear whilst my ‘back to back’ belts it with a 14lb sledge hammer Smile

Christmas sea food

That’ll be the salmon farmers heading to work the other morning just after 8:00, seems like there’s a lot going on round at the Moll fish farm. Harvesting for Christmas I guess as they’ve been coming back home in the dark, as has ‘Emma C’ who’s been berthed behind us most days and keeping similar long hours.

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Most of the fishing boats have been making the most of the good weather and prices as we head up to the festive season. There’s been a noticeable increase in the velvet crab fishery and a few boats even out on Sunday.

More Volvo work

As part of the regular 600h Volvo service is an inspection of the Jabsco water pump impeller, though they’re normally good for much, much longer than that. Normally I guess we change them at around 1800h or longer as they’re running in a sealed system with the lubrication benefits of the corrosion inhibitor.

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I did change the 1 on DG1 when I serviced it the other day, though more as a precaution than through need. DG2 however had a pump that was in a pretty sorry state.

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It was still performing just fine and I’ve seen them working OK in much worse condition than this but that’s usually in ‘open’ systems that have either got blocked and dried up, or sucked in debris with the sea water. Anyway, a new impeller and back plate sorted it out, had it been mine I’d have just turned the back plate around. Volvo charge £90 for what is essentially a small round flat brass plate with four holes in it. They then cut the name Volvo into it to discourage conscientious engineers from turning it around. I guess it is just feasible that the logo could damage the impeller, highly unlikely but that’s what they’d say!!!   

‘Build a better mousetrap’

Well, I don’t think you could,

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these ‘The Better Mousetraps’ really are the best. I got mine from Harbro in Portree but you can get them off eBlag and they’re deadly, easy to set and idiot proof. Our cats never followed us from ‘Number 3’ though we do occasionally see them over here. With three cats we were never bothered by mice at ‘Number 3’ but here at Sonas we go through spells of them. Don’t see any for months on end then I guess with the drop in temperature brought them in the barn. The ‘tell tale’ chewed foam insulation indicating their presence even before the droppings, last thing I need is chewed wiring here at Sonas. The wee blighters caused me a lot of grief in the past, must have been one the cats missed back at ‘Number 3’ for I once had a spell of inverter tripping back there that was driving me mad for months.

The Trace kept randomly tripping with an ‘overcurrent’ indication and there was no rhyme or reason to it. I spent hours looking for it and isolating various circuits but to no avail. Then one day I happened to be near the inverter when it tripped and I heard a crack from within the dry stone wall behind it. When I pulled the cable out, there it was nicely chewed by what I guess was now a dead mouse Smile 

So that’s it really I guess, Saturday night now, ‘the longest day’ and we’ll be sailing soon and rumour has it that darling wife is going to open a bottle of wine as it’s the weekend Smile

July 18, 2015

Pure pish :-(

Filed under: daily doings, New hybrid ferry, shed/house — Tags: , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 6:56 pm

The broadband here ‘on the route’ is like treacle today, a sure sign that the Sligachan campsite  is ‘chock a block’ with happy campers stuck inside their tents and vans. The prospect of a day on ‘Facecloth’ being more appealing than trudging the Cuillins in the pishing rain with a southerly gale driving water into every pore of the so called waterproof Gore-Tex. I defy anything other than a sheet of thick polythene to keep the water out when propelled by a Sconser gust. The weather is in short pish though the Scots definition is probably more appropriate today

It’s Saturday evening now, and much as I tried, I simply couldn’t ‘get it together’ to do any posting of late. Sure there’s been a couple of ‘late ones’ on the ferry with contactors fitting Wi-Fi hardware and Volvo doing some mods on our DG’s, but even when I’ve been home at 20:30 I’ve been wrecked. Donald Angus the joiner has been working hard and long at Sonas, fitting the solid oak doors and ‘Suffolk latches’ which require a considerable more time and effort than your regular engineered affairs with door knobs. The doors are pure beautiful and weigh a ton, but they’re held in place by hand forged Tee hinges of similar weight and ruggedness. Probably made by some poor soul in a sweatshop Delhi or Szechwan for peanuts right enough but they do look great and at least the doors came from the UK.

Heritage Doors and floors

The doors and hardware may be the ‘dogs danglies’ but that’s more than I can say about my experience with . Initially we just bought 1 door to asses the quality and service, and I told them this, so you can imagine how pished off I was when the first one arrived damaged. Not damaged by the courier but actually packed damaged, the protective ‘shrink wrap’ having fork marks in it from the forklift truck and the door having several gouges out of it.

I phoned them straight away and after sending some images they immediately offered a replacement. However, I said I didn’t want one, the door was heavy, I’d damaged all the wrapping to get it off and it was a pure hassle to return it. The door is just what we had in mind and I can live with the damage, we are after all after a ‘rustic look’.  I’ll keep the door I informed them, just give me a good discount on the next 12, fine said one of the several girls I spoke to on the phone over the next few weeks Smile 

Next thing a man turned up at my parents house to collect the door I was keeping!!!! I phoned them up and they assured me that nobody had been sent to collect the door. The original door having been dispatched to my parents house because of the ‘mainland’ address. So I phoned the courier, because by this time I’d repacked the door, the courier assured me they’d the correct paperwork and would collect it from Raasay!!! I phoned Heritage again, who once more insisted that they’d not asked a courier to collect it!!! Well says I he certainly wouldn’t collect it without an order and paperwork from yourselves would he? or he wouldn’t get paid! So I returned the door and awaited the arrival of 13 new ones with ‘Beeswax dipped hardware’.

A week or two later they arrived at Sconser, undamaged and nicely strapped to a pallet but minus the handles and hinges. Another phone call informed me that they should have been with the doors followed by another saying they’ll be posted out today!! Next thing Donald Angus informed me there was no beading for the doors with glass panels!!! Another phone call sorted that, then a few weeks later I realized that the new hardware was different to the hinges and handles sent with the first door!! Another phone call sorted that but by now I’d just had enough!!

In fairness to Heritage the quality was excellent, we love the doors and all the staff I spoke to could not have been more helpful or polite. I effectively got a great discount as they never charged me for the hardware which was around £35 per door and we are seriously pleased with the finished article.


Another band of rain heading for Raasay.

 It wasn’t all bad

It may not have been a great summer so far but it’s not been all bad


our ‘Old Boot’ sofa and chairs arrived on a nice dry day . Now we’ve not actually unpacked these yet but I’m expecting great things of these hand made chairs, Andy of the ‘Old Boot Sofa’ company has been phoning and emailing regular progress reports about George the sofa and Birdie the chairs Smile Seriously I’ve been given a blow by blow account of the individually made items and telephone lessons on how to care for the leather. Getting the chunky Chesterfield into the house may involve removing the doors right enough but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.


Like the grave

Well, it’s 19;30 now and it has at least stopped raining, can’t believe that it’s Saturday already, where has the week gone? It’s been deathly quiet here on the ferry, no doubt the weather has had something to do with that, and of course last night’s ceilidh and book launch.

This will be the launch of Nick Fairweather’s book, the one that Wifey and I went to last week and wondered why nobody was there Smile

Seriously, I finished work early and we both got showered and changed to drive the ten miles to the village hall for the 18:30 event, only to discover we were a week early!!!!

Not sure if the ceilidh was related to the book but I believe there are a few sore heads on Raasay today Smile Me, I’ve been taking it easy, it’s been a helluva start to the shift with all the contractors and technicians on board.

The final one left at 17:30 yesterday and I’ve just been catching up with the related paperwork.


I must say, I was seriously impressed with their service and the work they did on one of our D13 Volvo’s.

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I don’t believe it, the sun has come out!!


OK, I’ll rephrase that, ‘a tiny ray of sunshine crash landed on Glamaig’!!

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