Some of Britain’s most popular attractions don’t have a traditional winter shutdown period like most theme parks instead they are constantly operating at a high level and must carefully plan maintenance to minimise disruption to service. A few of London’s top attractions fall under this specialist bracket, the London Eye and the SEA LIFE Centre London among them. However, our most recent project centres around the maintenance and refurbishment of London’s most terrifying family attraction, the London Dungeons.

World famous for its gruesome yet entertaining retelling of British History, The Dungeons interlinks rides with historical re-enactment, and some horrifying surprises. As well as a terrifying indoor drop tower to end the tour, the Dungeon Boats are an extremely popular addition to this premier London attraction. A mysterious dark journey deeper into the dungeons is instore for any foolish souls brave enough to climb aboard these ghostly galleons. The tyrant boat ride takes guests along a steady boat journey before a slope plunges the “traitors” into the Thames below.

At the height of summer, a breakdown is the last thing, passengers and the Dungeons team want. To prevent against this the track and the boats are closely supervised and monitored. This classic ride system is currently going through a full boat refurbishment. This is where the Garmendale engineering team get involved. Last week we collected the first of these huge galleons to be re-furbished and transported it back to our factory in Ilkeston where restoration work has begun to ensure this boat is good as new before sailing the sewers below London again.

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The first major step to any refurb job is dismantling the boat and deciding what elements can be restored and which need to be replaced. For example, all the seating has been removed and our team will varnish the wooden bench-like seating before re-fit. However, items like the wheels will be replaced to ensure a smooth ride and overall longevity. Once the seating has been removed the outer ride body is then separated from the inner structure to check for internal damage and it makes re-painting the ride body easier.

The process of painting a boat is more difficult than you might imagine, as specialist paint is required to ensure the paint remains on the boat. A paint preparation process is carried out to ensure maximum adhesion and longevity of the paint. The existing paint is intentionally worn down using a technique called keying, the sanding off of the paint allows the new paint a smoother surface to latch on to.

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After the new paint has been applied and finished, our team of engineers will replace the vehicles wheels and fit a brand-new pump. Within the internals of the boat is fitted an electrically powered pump this ensures there is no water in the boat weighing it down. Once this is complete the original signage will be re-fitted and the boat will be ‘shipped’ back down to the London Dungeons.

Our first refurbished boat will be back terrifying guests in no time and over the next few months each boat will be restored and maintained keeping the experience as fresh and exciting as the day it opened.

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