Thursday, July 10, 2008

Zamboni Field Trip

I've been MIA in the blogworld for almost two weeks now - last week we were on vacation, but this week I've just been busy trying to catch up.  And I guess I"m caught up on message boards, email and blogging now; but the housework and summer school is another story.

Anyway, from June 29 through July 6, we were on vacation and visited my DH's family in southern Ontario.  We spent a fair bit of time visiting family and friends, and did a couple of purely fun things as well - such as seeing fireworks on Canada Day and on Independence Day (we LOVE fireworks!), and visiting Niagara Falls.  On one day, we were coming home from a visit with some friends, and on a whim, we stopped by the Zamboni plant.  Zamboni has had this facility just a very short drive from where my DH grew up and where his parents live now for as long as he can remember, but we have never stopped in. 

So, just for fun, we did what any hockey-loving homeschooling family would do - I went in and asked if they did tours.  They did not, BUT I noticed that they had some machines and things displayed in a lobby-type showroom, so I asked if it would be okay to bring my family in to look around at those.  The gentleman said that would be fine, so I brought the gang in.  No sooner had we come in the door, but this employee came back and said he would give us a personal "tour!"  So we had a wonderful history and science lesson all about ice-resurfacing.

Mr Zamboni created the first ice resurfacer by modifying a stripped down jeep and building a wooden reservoir that sat above the chassis.  It was nine feet high!  He built it to resurface the ice in a rink in California that he owned, after the advent of electrical refrigeration slowed down his iceblock delivery business.

This is the "Model J" Zamboni, which was used in the 1960s.  It still used the paddle and chain, and after resurfacing, a crew had to climb into the top and shovel out the snow :

 This is the Model K, which was manufactured at about the same time, but used a newer technology instead of paddle and chain:

 We also took a look at the most current model, and our tour guide explained many of its features and mechanics to us.  This is the water reservoir and engine.

This is a view of the engine from the front access panel.  We were told that this is basically a motorboat engine!

The tires are all studded to increase traction

These are the brushes that sweep up the snow along the edges of the rink:

This is the part of the resurfacer that does most of the work.  There is a blade that shaves off the top layer of ice, and an auger that channels the shaved off snow so it can be deposited in the reservoir in the top of the machine.  Zamboni resurfacers use a hydraulic system to keep even pressure on the blade, so that any ripples in the ice surface can be evenly shaved.

You can also see the pipe along the back edge of the blade assembly, where fresh water is sprayed onto the newly cleaned ice.  Here's a little closer look:

This picture isn't worth much unless you know what it is.  LOL  This is the reservoir where the snow is deposited, and then can be dumped out.  (and that's Kennady's head in front)  We were told that Zamboni uses the same material to line this reservoir as the boards around a hockey rink.  That's because the ice/snow can slide out easily when the container is dumped, eliminating the need for anyone to have to reach into or climb into the holding tank to shovel it out, like they used to do for the earliest models.

 And of course, the driver's seat:

We all took a turn sitting in that place of honor... Harrison:




Even Dad:

And me!! (Kennady took this picture, notice the much different perspective since she is so much shorter than me.  Does nothing to help me look slimmer, sadly. LOL)

Almost done, couple more pictures.... This is the edger machine, to do the tight corners and edges of an ink surface:

The giant Toronto Maple Leaf bobblehead they had on display.  (Yes the head really does "bobble" - this came from an All-Star game a couple years ago)

And each of the kids was given a souvenir by our tour guide - a Zamboni keyring:

You can read more about ice resurfacing machines  at Wikipedia, and about Frank Zamboni here.

Hope you enjoyed my very long picture tour of Zamboni.  Lesson for everyone - even if the place you're interested in doesn't do a "tour" you can sometimes get something really field-trip-worthy just by asking and showing a genuine interest in the product or service.  (Years and years ago, DH and I got a similar personal tour of a Coca-Cola bottling plant in the Bahamas, just because we walked in and asked.  We told them we collected Coke memorabilia and were interested, and we got the royal treatment.  Everything except the secret formula.  LOL My point is: Just ask!)

(This post has been updated for inclusion in the Throwback Thursday Blog-style link-up hosted at Tots and Me.)

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Prncsstefy said...

How Fun!

Lilyofthevalley4 said...

Looks like you had lots of fun! :)

kewkew said...

Oh my, what a fun little history lesson. We are hockey fans here (not that we get to go see many hockey games lately) and my husband will love this post. What a great opportunity for you, and so very cool that they allowed you your own private tour!
Thanks for stopping by and sharing on Throwback Thursday Blog-Style. I can't wait to see what you share this week! Have a great day!

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