Lead Forensics

PES uses 3D Scanning Technology to restore Historic Roller-Coaster

Feb 16, 2016 | 3D Scanning, Artifacts, Computer Aided Design (CAD), Design, Development, Manufacturing, Museums & Collections, News, Performance

Restorers of the historic wooden roller-coaster at Dreamland, Margate turned to the latest technology to help bring the UK’s oldest roller-coaster back to life.

Dreamland’s Scenic Railway was first opened in 1920 and is unique as it requires a brakeman to physically control the speed. The Scenic railway is one of only eight such rides in the world and has been listed by the Heritage Trust.

The original wooden train & carriages had been destroyed in an arson attack, with the only part that remained from the original carriages being one of the ornate dragon-heads that were part of the front structure of each carriage.

As part of the restoration project WGH Ltd were contracted to rebuild the train, with three carriages, as close to original specification. PES Scanning (PES) were approached to reverse engineer the remaining dragon-head and manufacture six new wooden dragons from the original to become part of the three carriage train required for the ride.

3D Optical Scanning Technology

The first challenge was to accurately reproduce the Dragons from the original. The original was hand carved, ornate and organic in shape, and the PES team used their 3D optical scanning system to capture the original data to a high level of detail, ensuring that the essence and original feel from the hand carved dragon would not be lost in reverse engineering the heads.

The salvaged dragon-head had been damaged with 270mm cut off from the lower section of the Dragon, plus further damage to the head. The team searched through archived information on the original scenic railway and soon discovered that the missing section included ornate carving and key details.

The solution was to commission a sculpture to rebuild the missing section in clay, using original carving techniques and align the original part with the clay sculpted section.

Then the full dragon was scanned using the 3D optical scanning system to produce a perfect 3D image. By combining modern technology with traditional methods we created the perfect solution to the challenge. We had recreated the dragon, incorporating the essence of what the original craftsman wanted to produce.


Once the scan data was complete GCNC Ltd used the data to programme a CNC cutting machine to manufacture from wood the six reverse engineered dragon-heads that were required to complete the three carriages being built.

PES managing director Mike Maddock comments; “It was great to see the scenic railway reopen again last autumn. The PES team are very proud to have played a small part in this amazing project and to have used our cutting-edge 3D optical scanning technology to help restore this historic landmark.”

See more about the project here.

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The PES Performance blog provides information and news on the performance engineered services we offer. The blog also includes views from our team and information about projects we’ve been working on.


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