The Pirate Ship at Twinlakes in Melton Mowbray is one of those ‘rites of passage’ rides that some kids love and others look at in fear for years, without ever quite having the nerve to ride.

Originally built by Zamperla in 1987, it’s been a centrepiece of their Labyrinth Venture Zone since it was installed in 2006, after relocation from Nottinghamshire’s American Adventure.

Lead Image Of Pirate Ship Top Axle At Twinlakes With A View Across The Park 400x260 1

Twinlakes Labyrinth Venture Zone

Over recent years, Garmendale have become the go-to team for refurbishment and servicing work on the Pirate Ships from both Zamperla and Huss after the refurbishment of the Pirate Ship at Skegness Pleasure Beach only last year and the drive plate remanufacture of the Black Buccaneer from Chessington the year before that.

With any ride within a UK theme park, they need to be completely stripped and non-destructively tested (NDT) every two years. Wikipedia defines NDT as “Nondestructive testing or non-destructive testing is a wide group of analysis techniques used in science and technology industry to evaluate the properties of a material, component or system without causing damage.”

In this case, every joint is tested to ensure they are sound and fit for another two years service. It’s an incredibly thorough test but does absolutely ensure rider safety.

As part of this process, the top axle, which is the main moving component is removed from the main structure, the bearings serviced and every moving part checked and replaced where required, prior to reassembly.

On the work bench this is all relatively straightforward work to an experienced engineering team but as is almost always the case with our work, the challenge is in removing the top axle from its working height of nearly 20 metres, prior to the work of servicing being able to begin.

What you can be sure of is that when they are reassembled, they are built to an even higher standard than when they first left the factory.

So let’s look at the work step by step.

2 Top Axle Of The Pirate Ship About To Be Dismantled 768x432 1

Top axle of the pirate ship about to be dismantled. 

2a Bolts Removed And Ready For Removal 600x562 1

With the bolts removed, the top axle is ready for removal.

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All roped up ready for the removal of the top axle to begin.

3 Heavy Crane Lifts The Top Xle Down For Servicing 570x570 1

A huge crane lifts the top axle down for servicing.

4 Close Up Of The Arms Without The Top Axle In Place 800x562 1

Close up of the arms without the top axle in place.

4 Close Up Of The Arms Without The Top Axle In Place 500x562 1

Close up of reassembled and fully serviced Pirate ship top axle.

And if you’d like to see it running from a riders point of view, here’s lovely little video of brave and excited young Ben.


So, if you’re a passenger then rest assured, they are rebuilt to exceptional standards. If you happen to own a pirate ship and need your pirate ship servicing, then call the Garmendale Theme Park Engineering Team on +44(0)115 932 7082.

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