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Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition

The Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about topics related to sports and sports fitness, general fitness, bodybuilding, nutrition, weight loss, and human health. Here, you'll find everything from nutritional information and advice about healthy eating to training and exercise tips for improving your overall well-being.

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5 comments

Zamboni: Winter on Wheels

Posted June 13, 2012 9:43 AM by HUSH

The unsung hero of hockey and curling matches, the Zamboni is probably more identifiable for its fun-sounding name, rather than its application, by middling sports fans everywhere.

Pictured: Middling sports fans somewhere...via Puck Daddy

The Zamboni lends its pop-culture 'stardom' to its turtle-like pace and ugly shape. It's frequently a source of comedy, intrigue, spectacle, and the vehicle of choice for BA pro-wrestlers.

In my first-ever Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition post, I covered the engineering behind making ice for a hockey rink. (Ahhh, those were the days…) Later, I babbled on about concussions in hockey, and then the Stanley Cup--or something. Hey, sometimes I don't even know what I'm going to write, or if its going to make sense, okay?

However, as the skates slice and the brooms, um, sweep…the ice gets worn down. Cracks and divots result in untoward bounces. And for that we have ice resurfacers!

...via Simon Barnett


Meet Frank Zamboni.

...via Riot Squrrrl

Frank was a Los Angeles resident (and, like every Los Angeles resident, never had heard of hockey). He owned an ice block business through the darkest years of The Great Depression, and like many Americans had to reinvent his making means. With the advent of electrical refrigeration in the late 1930s, Frank and his brother Larry had an excessive amount of refrigeration equipment, with no real market. They transformed their business into an ice rink: Paramount Iceland , which remains open today.

At this time, ice resurfacing took 90 minutes for a three-man crew. Frank built his first ice resurfacer in the late 1940s. The machine would scrape off the top layer of an ice rink, then cover it with a thin layer of water that would freeze, creating a new sheet of ice. Other ice rink tycoons (is that a thing?) noticed the brilliance of this machine, and Zamboni began producing them on top of surplus Willy's.

Despite some limited design advancements, the general operation of the ice resurfacer remains the same.

...via eNotes

The most important part of the ice resurfacer is the conditioner, which is the large, rectangular device dragged along by the exceptionally slow Zamboni. Hydraulically actuated, the conditioner is lowered to the ice to shave off the top 1/32" of the ice surface with a steel blade. The shavings created are carried off the ice with a series of augers or conveyors that deposit the snow shavings into the ice resurfacer's hull. This hull is tilted, much like a dump truck, and provides mounds of snow even on 100° F days.

Fresh water is often sprayed right in front of the blade in order to keep the ice clean, with a squeegee and vacuum behind the blade to remove excess water.

A Frank Zamboni comic book. No, I'm not kidding...via Amazon

At the rear of the conditioner, an observer will notice a separate, warm water fountain that is applied to the ice. When applied, the warm water slightly melts the ice which, when refrozen, creates a harder, smoother skating surface. This water is typically filtered or distilled, since impurities in water can make the ice brittle or change the ice's clarity. The warm water is settled into the grooves of the ice with a towel or other absorbent cloth that is towed.

Furthermore, much like on a street sweeper, a Zamboni may employ spinning brushes on its side to help sweep away ice chips that fall into the corners of the rink. The square nature of the conditioner means that it cannot adequately get into rink's corners. This helps alleviate some of the machine's deficiencies.

3.0L 4I Zamboni engine...via Car and Driver

In order to (once again) prevent a cease-and-desist letter from arriving on my doorstep, I must now point out that Zambonis and ice resurfacers--while performing the same task-are not the same thing. Zambonis are the trademarked name given to vehicles produced by the Zamboni Corporation, and ice resurfacers are the less-fun way of saying "a machine that drives around and repaves ice surfaces." These are produced by everyone else who isn't a part of the Fun Police.

No matter what though, the Fun Police can never get this terrible awesome song out of your head. Yeah, enjoy singing that one at work readers!

In the end, all that really matters is that the ice gets made so the games get played. (Now that deserves a trademark! Take that Zamboni Corp.!) I'd say we all stake to benefit from the modern conveniences.

Resources

Wikipedia - Frank Zamboni; Resurfice Corp.

Paramount Iceland - History

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#1

Re: Zamboni: Winter on Wheels

06/14/2012 12:54 AM

"The unsung hero of hockey and curling matches, the Zamboni is probably more identifiable for its fun-sounding name, rather than its application, by middling sports fans everywhere."

A Zamboni is not used for curling ice whatsoever. Curling ice is shaved with a much smaller machine, pebbled by hand and re flooded from time to time by ice technicians trained in curling ice techniques which are entirely different from those used with skating ice. Zamboni...never.

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#4
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Re: Zamboni: Winter on Wheels

06/15/2012 8:55 AM

Hmmm. I disagree. Admittedly, I'm not familiar with the specifics of curling, but I've found several curling clubs that resource ice resurfacers. They also usually explain why it's not the ideal technique for curling ice (tread tires, uneven cuts), but will suffice (time saving, availability).

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Re: Zamboni: Winter on Wheels

06/15/2012 10:01 AM

There probably are places that would use a Zamboni for curling ice. Specifically places that are not designed as curling rinks and use skating rinks painted over as a curling rink. However, the layout of sheets of curling ice in a rink that is used only for curling would preclude the use of a Zamboni. Specifically, in a curling rink there are usually permanent dividers between the sheets extending from the beginning of the sheet up to the hog line to keep rocks from one sheet from going over to another sheet. The Zamboni would not be able to resurface there. As you say, it is not ideal for curling, because of the course, uneven cut, tire tread marks, inability to properly level the ice,etc. There are many other reasons why the Zamboni is not used on a curling only rink, but simply put, it is just too big and course of a machine to use on curling ice. Given the choice of having curling ice or not, I guess it is a way to have ice.

I guess that I am spoiled. I've always been able to curl in a curling only rink. I've been a CCA (Canadian Curling Association http://www.curling.ca/) certified curling ice technician for a number of years and have assisted in making ice for several world class events so I've never had to experience a Zamboni on curling ice. The equipment that we use is specific to curling and very precise.

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#2

Re: Zamboni: Winter on Wheels

06/14/2012 8:07 AM

I've often wondered about the tires on a Zamboni. I've never seen one plow into the boards. Are the tires specially formulated for the purpose? Or is it something about the machine?

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Re: Zamboni: Winter on Wheels

06/14/2012 8:38 AM

They definitely can plow into boards if one isnt careful - despite a slow rate of travel (typically around 10 MPH for a good sheet of ice), they are incredibly heavy (the water tanks, when full, add alot of the weight), which lends itself to alot of momentum. In fact, it is often preferential to allow a zamboni to "fishtail" into tight rink corners for which the machines regular turning radius would otherwise have difficulty getting the conditioner into, as NHL regulations tend to be a bit lax on permissible corner radii dimensions. The machines typically will typically have wide, tungsten studded snow tires to aid in control, but an operator who "knows what they are doing" can easily make a zamboni do donuts.

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