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Uploaded on Dec 7, 2009
Before this magnificent machine was developed, ice resurfacing was a long and costly task. First, a tractor would pull a planer across the ice and the shavings it produced would be pushed off the ice by hand. After the snow had been removed, it was usually washed by spraying with a large hose. The dirty water was then removed by hand with large rubber squeegees. Then another coat of water was applied to obtain the smooth, glassy surface.
This operation would often take over an hour, and needed three to five men. The operation was so long that many rink operators cut the process short by scraping the ice by hand, and spraying the surface with a fine film of water. This would lead to a thick build up of ice, reducing the efficiency of the refrigeration system. After time, even more work was required to cut the ice sheet down to its proper thickness.
One of the first ice-resurfacing machines was built by the owner/operator of the Paramount Iceland in California (with his brother and cousin). They also operated an ice factory across the street. Starting with a tinkerers concoction mounted on top a used Army Jeep, seven years of trial and error led to the current well recognized icon of the sport. While there were many other ice making machines being developed at the time all over the world, the first employed in regular use took the ice in 1949 in Paramount. Interestingly, Paramount Iceland (one of the largest rink surfaces anywhere) was for many years an open air rink. How they managed that in Southern California still amazes me.
Legendary skater and actress, Sonja Henie saw the machine in use, and immediately ordered two for her touring show. Being seen all over the world with the show, led to its immediate popularization....and a new business. Frank Zamboni's ingenuity and determination gave us the ice conditions we take for granted and have come to expect.
The basic principle is simple. The vehicle shaves the ice with an adjustable blade, removes and stores the snow, washes and squeegees the ice and finally, leaves a thin film of water on the ice to be frozen by the rink's refrigeration equipment under the ice. (which uses the physics principle of water piped in under pressure to raise the freezing temperature required for ice). The blade shaves the ice, and the shavings are brought to an elevator by a screw conveyer (auger) which is often thought to be a blade, but actually only carries the snow to the elevator. The shavings are then lifted and deposited in the storage tank. Water is gravity fed from behind the blade, onto the ice to clean the surface. Excess water is then vacuumed away and another fresh coat of water is applied to be frozen in a consistently smooth surface. The water tank holds 195 gallons, and water is heated to about 165 degrees in cold climates (tap water works in southern areas).