Life at the end of the road

November 6, 2013

It’s my own fault :-(

Well that’s the first day on the croft by with and I managed to stay in bed until 7:30 and enjoy a much needed lie in. Of course when I finally did get out of bed and discover what appeared to be a beautiful day I was wracked with guilt for wasting part of it.


Not that it lasted, for by the time I’d fed all the pigs and loaded tools up into the quad the heavens opened, luckily I’d managed to ‘kit up’ first and was spared a soaking so early in the morning.

Poor Yangzhou Shenzhou

I must have written reams on here and on various internet forums about the inadequacies of Chinese wind turbines but as you probably know, I bought one anyway. The 200w unit was in a sale and cheap so I figured that I should at least have a go at making one work, and over the next few months I did.


It was just as I feared, poorly made, inadequately painted, abysmally welded, out of balance and complete with Mickey Mouse bearings. However after much patience and around £30 worth of bearings I got it ‘flying’ and was quite chuffed. To be honest though I didn’t really have a use for it as it’s 24v and my system is 48v. Of course I could have used a ‘grid tie inverter’ to ‘AC couple’ it into our own supply but we’ve more than enough wind power as it is with the Proven.

After much deliberation I just connected it to a 450ah battery bank for starting the HR2 Lister and used the ‘dumped heat’ to warm up the shed. This worked a treat and the little ‘dragonfly’ as we called it whirred away in the lightest of breezes and kept me company whilst building the hen shed cum solar panel mount.

Now, I knew that this ‘little baby’ was not man enough to weather a good week or so of gales and I knew they were lurking out in the Atlantic, indeed the same weather system wreaked havoc in the south east recently. Knowing all of this I was still too slow in stopping the turbine, so slow in fact that ‘braking’ the turbine by shorting the phases would have been catastrophic so I had to let her ‘sit it out’. The result being a ‘lost phase’ and reduced output, so that was my first task of the day, go and have a look. I’d measured the output and resistance a few days ago at the bottom of the mast and was kind of hoping for just a burnt connection or two where the wires exit the alternator and connect to the cable. So off I went and scaled the mast with meter and tools Smile


004 005

I just knew it was going ‘to end in tears’ as soon as I got the cover off, smelt the smell and saw the burn marks around the breather hole Sad smile 

No point wasting daylight on that I thought and got on with the solar powered hen shed, I could deal with the turbine at dusk.



That’ll be the dusk that now arrives an hour later thanks to ‘daylight saving time’ but I’ll spare you yet another rant on that subject Smile



The 32’ x 8’ hen shed is coming along nicely, wifey and the boy dug some drains around it at the weekend so it’s considerably less squidgy underfoot than it was.


It’s still hard going right enough as I’ve not actually got a usable road up there now, sure I can get the quad up, but not with any weight or the trailer on so everything has to be carried up there for now.



OK, it’s not very far but it is quite steep and those 12’ long 6” x 2”s aren’t exactly light, especially when every single plank needs about 80 nails removing.






That was it really up at the hen shed really, poor light stopped play around 16:30, and whilst I could have carried on in the dark I wanted to remove the turbine so I could work on it. I’ve not got any lights up yet in the barn and my vice and most of my tools are in my wee workshop at home.




Sure enough, once I got the Yangzhou Shenzhou home and stripped it down my worst fears were confirmed Sad smile

015 017 018

Believe it or not this charred lump was still producing electricity!!! admittedly not much and the casing was probably live but it was still generating.


019 020

One thing for sure though, it got very, very hot before it died Smile I shouldn’t be too hard on the little ‘Chinese jobby’ though, it was entirely my own fault, I knew these turbines were not built for Scottish weather and did nothing about it. A far cry from the Proven that seems to thrive on whatever the Atlantic can throw at it, which reminds me of an adage about potatoes that is just as apt for wind turbines. ‘You should always take seed potatoes south’,  in other words don’t take a light wind turbine to a strong wind area and expect it to thrive.

August 18, 2013

We never made it :-(

Filed under: daily doings, life off grid, shed/house, stonework, wind turbine — Tags: — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:36 pm

I bet you thought there’d been lack of activity on the blog front due to a serious night stompin’ to Sheepshank Redemption at the Raasay village hall. ‘Fraid not, we never made it Sad smile we wanted to right enough but it just never happened.


Friday turned into a long hot summers day and yours truly spent all of it up at the new house site moving rocks, filling in puddles and working on my new generator shed. I say new but it’s been up for over a year now, I just never got around to finishing it due to all this training lark.



I am just so pleased with this 8’ x 12’ lean to’ shed that has cost me virtually nothing to build, it’s going to be home to Harry the HR2 Lister, all my inverters and the new Rolls battery bank. It got a second coat of paint on Friday in between barrow loads of rock and I made a start at scraping up the paint of the concrete floor that never ‘took’. It was Teamac deck paint and I’m not sure if the concrete wasn’t cured enough, the paint too old (twenty years at least) or just plain not suitable, either way it’s a nightmare to remove with a scraper Sad smile



These pictures of the three tractors ‘resting’ after have made silage



and SSE wiring up the ‘extension lead’ Smile  to plug in the new ferry were taken on Thursday but I forgot to post them.


I did have a look on Davie’s photo stream for pictures of the dance but they’re not on yet, I’m sure they will be soon. Well worth a look though even if they aren’t, lots of lovely images of Raasay, its flora, fauna and folk.


After retiring to my bed before 21:00 I arose to a proper miserable day, all the more shocking as Friday had been such a peach. Still the gale force wind and heavy showers were interspersed with sunshine and it certainly boosted the batteries up.


I actually turned off the first of the sequential oil heaters to give the batteries a good ‘equalizing’. Normally the first 1kW heater comes on at 56.5v and then switches off at 51v or there abouts, the next one coming on at 57v and the third at 59v. leaving the first one off allowed the voltage to rise higher than normal and start the batteries gassing enthusiastically, this has the effect of equalising the cell voltages and cleaning the plates. It’s recommended to do it about once a month with Flooded Lead Acid cells but it’s not so easy to do with a wind turbine as it is with solar and hydro.



Saturday was also the third anniversary of the opening of our wonderful new ferry terminal on Raasay, only three years, it feels like we’ve been operating out of there forever. The days of hammering on the slip in a breeze of south wind or stuck alongside the old pier being bashed senseless long gone. Some things never change though, it’s still the same people who are always late for the ferry despite being a mile nearer to it Smile Smile



The pishing rain meant that ‘rock moving’ was out and ‘door making’ was in, and what a joy it was to be working in a large well let and dry shed as the rain hammered down on the roof. The north facing sliding door on my barn may mean that access is a little trickier but you can leave the door open most weather without getting swept off your feet or wet.

009  010

The door is 4’ x 6’ with a large air vent at the base to keep Harry cool if he fires up, though I’m hoping that will be vary rarely and I’m thinking of making it open and close as he starts and stops. The shed will be home to 16 Rolls S530 batteries too. One thing I regret about my current system is not putting the batteries into some kind of insulated enclosure as lead acid cells perform pretty poorly below minus five, not that we get temperatures that low here very often, but when we do you certainly notice it. With this in mind the shed, which is made from 6” framing is well insulated and lined and I’m putting my new cells on a shelf to keep them off the ground.



The Dude came to help, and after fitting the hinges, trying it for size and fitting the jamb inside the frame we removed it once more and he gave it a coat of Zinnser 123 which is supposed to be ‘the dogs danglies’ of primers.

With nothing left to do until the paint dried I turned my attention to the 200w Yangzhou Shenzhou 24v wind turbine that I’d got in the Navitron sale,20688.0.html 

012 013

The blades on this ‘little baby’ are huge, almost 7’ in diameter, which is no doubt why they perform so well in low winds, it is also their downfall because they are seldom in balance so prone to ‘over speed’ then self destruction. First thing that I noticed was that six of the twelve bolts are too short so I replaced all twelve of the mild steel ‘sets’ with stainless ‘socket caps’.



I then had a go at balancing the assembly with my Futurenergy balancing tool, an accurately machined aluminium cone with a wire though the middle.

  017 016

However, it was deserving far more patience and time than I had available so I gave up after less than an hour and got on with pig and hen related stuff. The Dude and I both managing a pigeon each before dinner time, he really is getting good Smile


Abandoning any work on here due to two things, one my son has managed to use all but the last 4% of my 15gB internet allowance, and two, we went over to Torran to visit the neighbours. 


Well, I was up early and headed up to the shed before 8:00 to get a coat of undercoat on the door prior to feeding the pigs and myself. After breakfast it was back up there, this time with ‘Lightning MacLennan to do some more work on the shed.


The first thing being a sturdy frame to hold almost a ton of batteries off the floor. I’m building to so high for several reasons, firstly, I’m sick of bending down when I top them up, secondly they’ll be right below the window and thirdly I’ll have storage space under them.


Lots of screws and some 9” X 3” timbers should do the trick Smile Lightning also got a coat of gloss on the door, we fitted a facia board for the guttering then all went up the hill for a wander.


It never turned into the dry sunny day we were promised, there were in fact quite few showers and we got a little damp on our way back from North Arnish.


Not that that would bother anyone on this cruise ship departing Portree around 17:00 on Sunday evening.


I can’t for the life in me remember the name of that cut in the rocks near Manish Point but it’s so long and narrow that you can rarely see right through it like this.


Map picture

Well, not unless you’re in an aeroplane that is, quite spectacular hey.

 033  031

There are some nice ruins up there too, but it was a roast beef dinner at 18:00 so we had to run back home Smile

Blog at