Life at the end of the road

January 24, 2019

A late one

Finished at last Smile That’s me two week shift over plus an extra few hours last night to assist RH Marine replace the forward battery charger that had ‘gone west’ before Christmas. The spikes, glitches and power interruptions caused by a landslip in Glen Garry had caused chaos throughout the highlands. The Hallaig wasn’t alone in having ‘issues’ after a major power line pylon got washed away on the mainland but most of them were sorted out prior to sailing the following morning. However the blown diodes on one of the Vacon inverter drives that functions as a battery charger took a little more sorting. Repair seemed risky so a new unit was ordered but had to come from the factory in Finland. This would not affect the service but it did mean sailing in ‘DG Only’ the ships non hybrid ‘diesel electric’ mode. Not that any of the customers would notice the extra generators running as the Hallaig is so quiet anyway. However there would be a fuel penalty to pay and extra generators to service during the interim.

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Number 3 DG (one of our 3 Volvo D13’s) got its turn this week, last shift it was number 2 and next week it will be DG1.


As, is often the case at around 1000h the Jabsco water pump impeller was replaced too,


and as is always the case we used Hallaig’s ‘garbage compacter’ to squash the empty oil containers afterwards Smile These go in a special ‘waste safe’ ashore and you can get a helluva lot more of them in it if you crush the cans with the stern ramp first Smile Must pass that tip onto the ‘company waste manager’, I kid you not Smile

The forward battery charger

So, after finishing work on Wednesday morning I went home for a few hours and after my dinner set off back to  work to join Hallaig once she’d tied up for the night. The battery chargers are buried right in the guts of the ‘drive cabinets’ amongst lethal capacitors, bus bars and all manner of things that could at best give you a jolt leading to a bump on the head. Worst case scenario would be a barbecued engineer and lots of paperwork, needless to say ‘isolation’ is very important Smile

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You really don’t want to be poking around in there if anything at all is live. There is 700VDC, 400AC, 230AC and 24VDC stuff in there.

Twelve hours had been set aside for the job to allow for unseen complications, programming the Vacon drive to act as a battery charger is very similar to programming the power curve into a wind inverter or programming a solar inverter to act as a wind inverter. There are just a lot more parameters to alter, a task Rene of RH Marine made look easy, which I guess it was for him Smile Though I had to laugh cos he had to use our own laptop cos his ‘RS232 to USB’ converter would not communicate with the drive, which is why I bought a laptop with a serial port, they never do Smile Worse than that, they almost work which leads you to hours of messing about with COM ports and baud rates to no avail. If you do any work with equipment that has an RS232 plug or serial port and most solar charge controllers, inverters do then buy a laptop with a serial port like a Dell Rugged (mine) or Panasonic CF19 you will save yourself a lot of grief Smile

Aside from the communication issues the job went pretty well, I was in my bed before 2:00am and ‘ready for action’ this morning before 8:00am. Sure, I’m pretty feckered right now but it’s been a busy old day with much achieved.

Yamaha YFM 350 swinging arm

Breakfast of beans on bread cos I couldn’t be bothered with toast Smile was followed by a morning wander down the road with the dogs to check one of the hydro turbines.

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It must have been windy hey Smile the turbine was OK but one of my trailers had gone for a walk too Smile

The first job  was to fit a new swinging arm to my mate’s Yamaha YFM350 quad. The part, along with a new front wishbone and some bushes had arrived a few days ago from MSP


in Holland and I can’t praise them highly enough. It’s cheaper and often quicker to get genuine Yamaha parts delivered from Holland than ‘pattern’ parts in the UK. I kid you not, I once got some CV joint gaiters for this Yamaha from Arizona cheaper than buying them in Cumbria!!! Not the parts themselves, they were slightly more expensive in Flagstaff than Whitehaven but the Dude in Cumbria wanted £25 to post them!!!

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I had to cut the old bushes out of the swinging arm but that was easy enough with the cordless grinder and some ultrathin cutting discs, they make very few sparks and stay much cooler. Sure they don’t last very long but I find these 1mm thick discs fantastic for precision cutting like this without damaging the bush. Of course I could have bought new ones like I did for the front wishbone but these were nearly £20 each and it actually looked (on the drawing) like the came with it.


Checking the levels

Before I got it finished Callum and Jay arrived to ‘check my levels’ for the ‘boat park’

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and he even brought me a wee model to show what it would look like Smile

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The coalman

Once he’d done his surveying and pulled me trailer out of the ditch I finished off the Yamaha then took it for a test drive with half a ton of coal.


OK, 250kg at a time but there was a time I’d have taken (or at least tried) all ten bags at once. This old Yamaha really has done an awful lot of work.

January 8, 2019

The ‘last sleep’ :-(

Filed under: boats, daily doings, food, How I — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:34 pm

Less than two weeks since I actually finished work but to be honest it feels more like a month, hope I can remember what to do when I get back there Smile. Just now it’s 18:00 and the wife and I are cooking ‘Pork Milanese’ spaghetti with some fine home grown pork loin. Darling wife is on the breaded loin cutlets and me, I’m making the sauce and spaghetti.

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Never bothered with the Meanwhile, lay the pork medallions between two layers of cling film and bash with a rolling pin until they are about 1cm thick. bit right enough. Whoever wrote that menu had obviously never eaten a proper pork loin Smile Ours are so tender you can cut them with a fork !!!

So, where was I

That was boodly delicious so where was I, well, I never posted yesterday, not cos I’d nothing to write about but cos I was pure wrecked. A simple task of mixing a few loads of concrete turning into a bit of an epic on account of the weather. Consequently I was a little slow in removing myself from the house,


however, fortified by the last four ‘hand picked’ scallops that my son and I had collected, I made it. Whoops, cocked up there, I just remembered, I had two yesterday and the last four this morning.

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Bet my cholesterol (whatever that is) is ‘though the roof’ now,along with my blood pressure and BMI probably, but that’s it. I guess that along with half of the UK I’ll be starting some kind of ‘health drive’ for the New Year Smile So that’ll be the Baileys with coffee, tea, porridge and crab ‘oot the windae’ till next Christmas hey. So, when I finally did leave the house it was to go down to the slipway to collect some tools and scallop shells. I chuck them into the sea after shucking them then go and collect them a few tides later after the crabs had cleaned them. I’m sure they’ll come in useful one day Smile

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The wind at that time was still from the west so nowhere near as rough in there as it would be later on but at some point over the last couple of days

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the old 36” digger bucket had been moved several yards up the shore. It used to sit over that light patch on the left hand image where my son dumped it last year, the plan being to use it as an extra weight on the inshore leg of my mooring. Well that’s not going to be quite so easy just now Smile

Having got my trowel, spade, hammer, rake, scallop shells, PVA adhesive and self into Phoebe I headed back up the hill to make a start. I had already tried taking the dogs for a walk but Molly was having none of and Leah seemed more than happy to do an ‘about turn’ at the gate.

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Back to the mixer

The pishing overnight rain had left my trailer load of aggregate so sodden that me first mix was like soup Sad smile

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Reduction of the water sorted that but the high wind made shovelling the cement ‘interesting’ and safety glasses mandatory to say the least.

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I guess I only did half a dozen barrow loads but most of those involved me trowelling it over the fence a scoop at a time them walking round to spread it.


Not my neatest work by a long shot but I eventually got the job finished and turned my attention to my Mate’s quad.

Yamaha YFM 350 Bruin 4×4

At some 15 years of age and after more work than your average London taxi the wee Yamaha quad was needing some attention. I just cannot sing the praises of this machine highly enough, my Mate has had it from new and it has carried several articulated lorry loads of building materials to his house. That aside it’s dragged thousands of litres of fuel, coal, gas, batteries, slates, rock, aggregate and of course pigs too. It has been used and abused beyond belief, lived much of its life outdoors, been covered in salt spray and buried in peat. Sure it’s had a few repairs but only what you would expect for such a well worked machine. It’s one weak spot in these 15 years has been the electrics, it has in that time been plagued with niggling electrical faults. Usually these have manifested them selves in the starting department, usually switches, solenoids, brushes or just plain corroded wiring.

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This time it was the starter button that needed replacing. The button actually failed about ten years ago and I transferred the wiring back then to the horn switch. Not much call for a horn here so it did just fine (lasted twice as long as the original) until it failed recently. Luckily I had bought a couple of these recently,

 7/8" Kill Stop Handlebar Switch Horn Button For Motorcycle Bike Quad ATV 2017 Vv

a motorcycle horn switch off eBay that did the job nicely.

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It was whilst poking about underneath that I noticed a few cracks in the rear ‘swinging arm’ and decided to leave it until tomorrow (today) when I could power wash it and have a proper look.

Creosoting in January Smile

Well, it was a far better day today for sure with both dogs eager and willing for a walk, as was I truth be known, so it was with a ‘spring in our step’ that the three of us wandered along the road to Calum’s old house and back, calling along the way to check my hydro turbine.

After depositing the dugs back in the house then cleaning up all the couch grass from yesterday’s gale I turned my attention to cleaning up the Yamaha and getting it on the lift. That friggin couch grass is Raasay’s equivalent of tumbleweed and finds its way into everything after a good gale of wind.

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This vehicle lift certainly makes life easier Smile

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Yamaha YFM350FA BRUIN 4X4 2004 REAR ARM for a 2004 Yamaha YFM350FA BRUIN 4X4

My original plan was to remove the rear arm and just weld it up,

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however once it was off it became apparent that a repair wasn’t really such a good idea as the rest of the arm was pretty corroded inside.

Whilst at it I also removed the front RH lower wishbone, that had been bent for quite a while and did require cutting to take off.

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After ordering the parts form MSP in Holland I got on with creosoting my fence. It’s not often you can do that here in January Smile

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and even got it finished before dark Smile

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