About this site

Piers and Lin du Pré bought their new Fleming 55 / 129, Play d'eau, in 2003.

She was berthed in Beaucette Marina, Guernsey in the Channel Islands at N49° 30’.197 W002° 30’.350 until she was sold in October 2021.

This site charts the thrilling adventures they had in her.

You can contact us here.

Where’s Play d’eau?

If the new owners have the AIS on, you can find where Play d'eau is right now.

Click here.

Zoom in and our position will be shown on a map.

Recent Posts

Gearbox and tacho – sorted

The gearbox was separated from the engine
click to enlarge

Wanting to jump straight onto the gearbox technical issues quickly, I called TwinDisc’s UK distributors, The MIT Group on Monday and explained the oil spill from the flywheel housing.

‘We’ll fly in first thing on Thursday and take the late Friday evening flight back to Gatwick,’ said Service Manager, Paul Masey. What service. What a star.

Thursday morning

0935 – Having collected MIT’s TwinDisc gearbox specialist, Gary Downes, and his two large suitcases of tools and spares from Guernsey’s International airport, he was keen to learn every detail of the problem as we drove along the coast road.

On Play d’eau, he donned white overalls. ‘White?’ I commented. ‘Yes, white for leisure and blue for commercial.’ Impressive.

Having made a plan, Gary removed the stabiliser oil pump, the Reverso oil pump-out unit, the gearbox selector and stabiliser sensor, installed bespoke engine brackets to lift the rear to the engine ready for the removal of the gearbox, removed the engine air intake filter, the Aquadrive coupling, moved various wiring looms and pipes, and finally the flywheel housing bolts.

With wooden chocks to support the weight, Gary gently slid the heavy gearbox backwards along the main engine bearers.

Thursday afternoon

Lin had created a lovely ham salad for lunch, and with coffee (tea for Lin) Gary was revitalised. Back in the engine room, he examined the engine’s flywheel and gearbox interface.

‘We’ll change the gearbox transmission input shaft oil seal, clean the input shaft bearing adjustment shims, the SAE adapter housing and oil seal carrier bolts, and clean everything, thoroughly.’

With his head almost disappearing into in the flywheel housing, he added, ‘And whilst we’re about it, I’ll clean the magnetic tachometer sensor. It’s collected some debris possibly from when the starter motor meshes with the flywheel.’

With a final clean up, we called it a day.

M & G Marine Engineers

Gary checked the shims
click to enlarge

One point I must add is that the bespoke engine brackets needed additional drilling and tapping. For this, I called M & G. ‘Bring them down, Piers. We’ll do the work immediately and bring them back to the boat for you,’ said Andy Richmond.

Again, what service. So helpful. Perfect.

Friday morning

0730 – Collected Gary from the Peninsula Hotel. In fresh brilliant white overalls (actually, inside out to hide yesterday’s dirt) Gary inspected his work.

‘Good. No further oil’s appeared which might have been hiding behind the engine flywheel.’

With another clean of every surface, Gary planned the re-installation. Step by step, everything was re-assembled ensuring the engine remained aligned on its Aquadrive mounting brackets.

Ready to start, I activated the Starboard Engine circuit breaker, turned the ignition key – and stopped. No engine instruments apart form the engine water temperature gauge running to maximum.

Even with double checking of every cable we’d moved, touched, looked at or even thought of, the problem remained.

Friday afternoon & Operation Wiggle

Our cloud of despondency was interrupted by Lin calling, ‘Scramble eggs on toast is ready.’ Somewhat dispirited, Gary and I surfaced from the engine room and ate lunch whilst wracking our brains.

‘What if you wiggle every cable you’ve moved whilst I monitor the engine instruments and we’ll see if anything happens?’ I suggested.

Back in the Pilot House, I stared at the dead instruments. ‘Ready,’ I shouted. ‘Commencing Operation Wiggle,’ came the cheery reply.

Nothing. Nothing at all. Until suddenly the gauges went crazy. ‘That’s it,’ I yelled, jumping down into the engine room. ‘What were you touching?’ ‘This,’ said Gary, pointing to a large conduit of cables.

Removing the plastic trunking some twenty or more cables came to view. Many had inline crimped yellow connectors. ‘Once more,’ I said, ‘cable by cable.’

We repeated the process. ‘That’s it!’ I shouted again. ‘Gotcha,’ shouted Gary, triumphantly.

With the shaft seal replaced and seal plate cleaned, Gary was ready to re-assemble
click to enlarge

It was a simple fault. When the cable was originally installed, it needed extending. A connector had been crimped to one end correctly but when it came to the other the cable has not been properly inserted so had not been properly crimped. It was only touching and not secure. Most unlike Fleming.

Job done

Having repaired the cable the instruments were all fine. Yes! Even with further wiggling.

Starting the engine, Gary began extensive checks. Good so far. Now forward gear. Now reverse gear. Now high rpm. All OK. Gary’s checks revealed no further leaks.

‘We still need to run a sea-trial at high speed,’ said Gary, but with the tide out and unable to leave the marina, we agreed it was best not to try high speed manoeuvring around the pontoons.

What can one say?

Although far too early for Gary’s 1800 flight to Gatwick, we needed to leave early to see if he could jump on an earlier flight. Fog had been delaying flights all day.

At the airport what could one say? ‘Thank you’ seemed inadequate. Gary had worked tirelessly, willingly, carefully, and so professionally – and in white overalls.

‘Let me know how she runs,’ he said. ‘I will,’ I responded, as Gary disappeared into the terminal trailing his two large suitcases.

Two technical issues resolved in one go. Gearbox leak and tacho readings. Sorted.

Right, onto the next technical issue.

from the engine room of
Play d’eau
Fleming 55

(click on the photos below to enlarge, and use the left/right arrows)

6 comments to Gearbox and tacho – sorted

  • Patrick

    Glad that all is working well on the TD. These are generally a very robust gear box and have few issues.
    I am a little envious as you seem to have a good contingency of mechanical resources available to you with little searching.
    So only a few more issues to complete. On your navigation issue. Have you contacted the manufacturer service directly, not a service dealer, and explained the issues. They may have dwelt with this before and may be able to steer you in the right direction. Could be as easy as a software upgrade or EMS interference from other systems on board.
    This season is a Staycation for us as I have several large projects I wish to accomplish before Winter sets in. Next year planning an extended cruise up into Canada.
    Good luck and all the best.

    • Hi Patrick. Thanks for the thought of contacting the manufacturers re the electronic issues. I’d always left it to the service dealer. Good idea. Thank you.

      Canada? Sounds exciting. For me, I almost have as much fun in the planning as the execution.

      All the best with your large projects.

  • Hil

    My goodness! It sounds as though her entire innards were removed- no hospital, no anaesthetic, only the doctor and the “nurse”. What a huge operation and, by the sound of it, a successful one. And in all of that, you must have learnt a lot too? Have you been in touch with Fleming? Now for the high speed test- just you and Lin? Have fun!

    Lots of love Hil x x x

    • Hi Hil, the issues we’ve had a ‘standard ongoing maintenance issues’, so nothing that demands notifying Fleming. However, I’m often in touch with their European Service Manager about some of the aspects of the technical detail.

      Yes, loved it and learned a great deal. Lin and I are planning a sea-trial on Thursday when we’ll give Play d’eau her reins and see how she performs. I feel confident with the repairs so expect all will be 100%.

  • Alan Richmond

    Er…….it’s Andy Richmond at M&G. I should know

    I hope the sea trials are a lot of fun.

    Best wishes


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