Working on the The Twins

It’s been a funny old week. Despite being well in March and busy with both tours and guests, the distillery has never seemed so quiet! We recently got the good news that we can go ahead with new warehouses behind Inverarish and as such Norman and Joseph have been busy off-site starting ground works and construction for some new long-term whisky storage. Scott and Eilean, by fellow marketing team are on holiday and, to top it all off, on Thursday last week the distillery had to close down as we waited for a new part for the boiler. As such the distillers have been taking time off and a sort of perpetual weekend has set in. The distillery is cold, the usual staff are nowhere to be seen and whole place seems very still (no pun intended).

Something I guarantee you’ll never see anywhere else online- our Spirit Still filled with half-distilled product from the shutdown. Looks lovely!

Still the work must continue and it gave me a chance to get something big out of the way- fixing our sign! I was pretty pleased with our new distillery ‘this way’ sign, but the roadside setup had been thrown together quite quickly and needed a bit of an adjustment. The Community council noted that it has been a bit close to the road, which was true as I didn’t have enough wood to properly level it out back when I first put it up. So, with some measurements in hand and a few lengths of wood I returned to finish the job:

Now further back from the road and with some more secure wood fittings, it should now last a fair bit better and look a bit more level and neat. I may need to return at some point to better stain the wood but overall I’m pretty pleased with it. On the way back I also went to check the Land Rover to see how she was holding up. Aside from the the usual creeping rover rust, what I really wanted to check was whether the incredibly temporary fix I had made on one of the rock sliders was holding up. A few months ago someone must have taken a nasty dent out of the passenger-side slider while backing out of the distillery and while that may exactly what the sliders for protecting against, I figured I had to try and tidy it up before our open day a couple weeks back. So with an old tin of blackboard paint during a torrential rain storm I slapped on some paint to cover it up as best I could and hoped for the best. Amazingly, it still looks pretty good! Just shows you how even a quick job can be better than doing nothing.

Talking of vehicles though and ‘the twins’ – the two Suzukis, Super Carry & Jimny, have both seen some work. The Jimny was away in Portree this week getting some fixin’ done in the form of every Jimny owners worst nightmare- king pin bearings! These little problem bearings are notorious for failing and causing the somewhat melodramatically named ‘death wobble’ at higher speeds. They’re a major cause of headaches for a lot of Jimny owners and probably one of the most common ‘big fixes’ for the trucks. Ironically the king pins on mine seemed fine, however the rubber seal on the axle ball was starting to leak and differential oil was starting to seep out onto the wheels. Not a major problem, but the process of replacing the seals was not something worth doing without also replacing the bearings while we were at it (and since most kits online include new bearings and king pins as part of a kit). This is something I’d be really keen to attempt myself, but since we were busy and wanted it fixed properly (for the one that actually required fixing at least) we sent it to MacRaes, where they could also attempt to chisel out the differential fill and draining plugs that I couldn’t for the life of me remove. They had also recommended I paint and tidy up the front diff cover and axle, which I am keen to getting around to much like I did with the rear.

Still needs a second coat. Probably yellow.

The other twin didn’t get the fancy MacRaes treatment though. With her engine spread out in a dozen bits on the floor, we set to work on replacing the ‘white whale’: the timing belt! Timing belts are always a bit of a worry and as much as we’d both read up on them we figured we’d replace the belt, fit the new required water pump and then have a more experienced, knowledgeable mechanic double check we hadn’t set the thing up to explode the moment he turned it over. First was the water pump replacement, and boy did it need one:

The problem with this setup is of course the timing belt and various sprockets and tensioners all need to be removed before we can even access the pump. It sounds very daunting and scary (even the Haynes manual rated it an ominous four spanners out of five for difficulty!) but once all was said and done it only look up 20-30 minutes. After fitting it the new pump and cleaning out where years of coolant buildup, we tentatively put it back together and hoped it would all oneday work:

New belt, tensioner and water pump. Phew!

After that it was a case of cleaning her up a bit and masking off some parts so we could give the block a nice coat of glanvanised paint.

We also looked at the new clutch. To be honest the old one (which may be original it’s hard to tell) was in remarkably good shape to the point it was tough to tell whether we really needed to swap it, but we needed the flywheel off to trace a small leak in one of the gaskets anyway so it wasn’t a waste (and we’ll probably swap it still anyway).

After all that, one of the more mechanically minded islanders, Hooky, came around to inspect our work and deemed it acceptable! The belt was out a few teeth and needed to be tighter (we had measured it to the old belt, but of course with it being stretched and worn it wasn’t really tight enough as a reference) but overall I’ll chalk up a major success to the knowledgeable old man and his sidekick for one day getting #ProjectBamse back on the road.

So we’re getting there. I’m off work for a couple of days now, so I hope to finish or start some new projects and maybe a get a bit more work to the car done. Other than that it’s been a relatively quiet week, a few trips to the pub and not much else.

Oh, Fiona and Ian got engaged though. But otherwise, you know, pretty quiet.

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