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Piers and Lin du Pré are the owners of the Fleming 55 Play d'eau, based in Beaucette Marina, Guernsey in the Channel Islands at N49° 30’.197 W002° 30’.350.

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Play d’eau’s holiday technical issues

The gearbox oil leak throws oil out of the flywheel housing
click to enlarge

Play d’eau has been brilliant and had very few engineering problems over the years. Maybe it’s a sign of her age (she’s 13 now), but we’ve had a few coming to the surface, recently.

Technical Log

So here’s a list of issues from our Tech Log which remain outstanding, together with ones we solved during the holiday.

Stabilisers, port fin – RESOLVED

The stabiliser ram seal and actuator plate seal both failed. Brian George of Golden Arrow drove from the UK to La Rochelle and corrected the faults.

Gearbox, starboard engine – NOT RESOLVED

Gearbox oil started to weep past the shaft seal into the flywheel housing and be thrown out of an inspection hole in 2014.

MDS Marine of Hamble replaced the shaft seal in late 2014, but the issue reappeared soon thereafter and again during this holiday. Oil appears to be thrown when operating above approx 1300 rpm (WOT = 2,600 rpm).

An associated problem is the tacho sensor, located within the flywheel housing, which has had gearbox oil thrown on it causing it to display erroneous readings at low rpm. It needs cleaning after the seal has been replaced.

Since MDS cannot attend for some time, an engineer from MIT Group, the main UK TwinDisc gearbox distributors, will fly to Play d’eau this coming Thursday and Friday to effect repairs. I will report in more detail later.

Alternators – NOT RESOLVED

Given unusual starboard engine instrument readings including low voltage whilst underway, action to investigate and correct will be,

  • having not be touched for 13 years, both will be rebuilt
  • having been installed in April 2006, all will be replaced

Note that the battery charger (new Mastervolt in 2013) checks OK.

Electronics – NOT RESOLVED

Ever since the new electronics were installed, we’ve suffered endless problems with the Furuno SC50 Satellite Compass and various NMEA sentences either failing to be sent or received.

Robin of RES Electronics (Guernsey) has been a great help in:

  • Replacing all three failed aerials in the satellite compass (warranty claim)
  • Changing some of the wiring where it was incorrect
  • Changing an NMEA converter to a high speed version

The remaining issues are,

  • ‘Heading missing’ on the Furuno NN3D when configured to the Satellite Compass for the heading source. Average 2 warnings per cruise leg
  • ‘Heading missing’ on the Furuno NN3D when confiugred to the Furuno PG500 fluxgate compass for the heading source. Average 1 warning per every other cruise leg
  • ‘Aborting’ and ‘Output Error’ warnings on the Furuno SC50 satellite compass. No 3 GPS aerial fails at least once a week. Is the satellite compass ever going to work reliably?
  • Navtex fails to read incoming messages when we continued south on holiday, but jumped back into action when north of Camaret

There has been an additional fault with the AC Services panel:

  • Starboard bus, shore power selected, current indicator gives wild readings for many minutes before it settles down. This may be a faulty sensor coil

Robin will attend to the above later in the year after the work on the alternators and batteries has been concluded, as above.

Salt water pump – NOT RESOLVED

The Headhunter XRS-124 that provides salt water around the boat has failed. Replacement on order.

Air Conditioning – NOT RESOLVED

The ‘pump trigger circuit board’ which controls water pump activation for air conditioning in the master cabin has failed. Replacement on order.

Apart from the above, everything is working well.

Piers
from the workshop of
Play d’eau
Fleming 55

8 comments to Play d’eau’s holiday technical issues

  • Patrick Colahan

    Piers,
    For the love of the Sea! I would venture to guess that you have an alignment problem with your transmission that is causing the seal to fail.
    We carry a pretty good compliment of spare parts on M/V Paloma as I am sure you do, but it never seems to be enough, does it?
    How many engine hours are you logging per season? I would imagine that you are at a couple of hundred.
    Good luck with your issues.
    Patrick

    • Hi Patrick. Indeed, the lazarette is full of boxes of spares, and I’ve commandeered the top cupboard in the third cabin as well….

      Play d’eau’s just passed 1,500 hours, so in 12 years of cruising, that’s 125/annum, averaging 1200 rpm. I don’t like going faster than 8kts. Thankfully, theses Cummins 450C engines have an oil thermostat to keep the oil temp correct so bore glazing doesn’t happen.

      Hopefully, with MIT as the main UK people for TwinDisc, they’ll identify what’s causing the issue. Hmmm (meaning growl!)

  • Alan Richmond

    Hi, Piers

    Re Navtex problem. It wouldn’t be something as simple as being out of range of Niton transmitter, would it. Mine stops working around there, and I need to select another station.

    I’ve really enjoyed following your blog for this trip. Best cruising ground ever!

    Best wishes

    Alan

    • Hi Alan, I went through the programming and in the end I selected every station possible and every time and not dependent on GPS although the GPS signal was present. Mind you, I can always have done something silly, so I’ll check yet again. Thanks for he idea.

  • Alan Richmond

    Further to my comment on Navtex, Corsen is probably your best station, but here is the list for Navarea II:

    NAVAREA II NAVTEX Schedules
    NAVTEX stations in NAVAREA II

    Station 518kHz IDs 490kHz IDs
    Abidjan Planned –
    Casablanca M –
    Corsen A E
    Dakar C M
    Douala Planned –
    Horta F J
    La Coruña D W
    Lagos S – Planned –
    Las Palmas de Gran Canaria I A
    Monsanto R G
    Nouadhibou Planned –
    Port Harcourt E – Planned –
    Port Kamsar Planned –
    Porto Santo Island P – Planned M – Planned
    São Vicente U P
    Tarifa G T

    Best wishes

    Alan

  • Hil

    No wonder you came home early. This all sounds horrifying and I am sure you will need this time before going to SA to rectify it all. Can it all be rectified? You’ll be busier than ever with all this- oh dear.

    I have so enjoyed your blogs and will miss them very much.

    Lots of love, Hil

    • Hi Hil, all can be rectified, but in boating it’s always a matter of time. Time available for your chosen engineers to attend (often with much thumb sucking, whistling and ‘hmmm’), and time to obtain spares.

      The two issues on which I am reliant on other engineers, are the gearbox and the electronics. The rest I can do myself. Obtaining the parts and finding enough time to complete properly takes far more time than one can imagine.

      We’ll get there.

      Thanks for the kind comments re the blogs and photos.

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