Rink Info & Facts
Making an ice rink isn’t as simple as flooding the floor with gallons of water. The crew must apply the water carefully and slowly, in order to insure ideal thickness. An ice surface that is too thick requires more energy to keep frozen and is prone to getting soft on the top. A surface that is too thin is also dangerous because skaters risk cutting straight through the ice.
It takes between 12,000 and 15,000 gallons (45,000 to 57,000 L) to form a Hockey rink surface. The maintenance crew forms the ice in several different layers, in many steps:
- The crew sprays the first two layers on using a paint wand. The paint wandk creates a fine mist of water to create the first two layers, each only 1/30 of an inch thick. The first layer freezes almost immediately after it is sprayed on.
- Once the first layer is frozen, the crew sprays on the second layer.
- The crew paints the frozen second layer white with the paint wand, allowing for a strong contrast between the black hockey puck and the ice.
- The crew then sprays on the third layer. This layer, which is only one-sixteenth of an inch thick, acts as a sealer for the white paint. The crew paints the hockey markings (the lines, creases, face-off spots and circles) and team and sponsor logos on top of this third layer.
- Once the markings and logos dry, the crew gradually applies the final layer.
The crew slowly applies the remaining 10,000 gallons with a flooding hose. “We put on 500 to 600 gallons per hour until the remaining layer is complete,” says our head of facilitites. “That means 15 to 20 hours (1 hour/500-600 gallons) for that final layer. Each of those layers is allowed to freeze before we put the next 500 to 600 gallons on. The less water you put on the floor at one time, the better your ice will be.”
Maintaining the Rink
No matter how well-groomed the ice rink, the ice will eventually be cut and pitted, and dust and bugs will dull it. The ability to quickly and effectively resurface the ice is as important to skating as the development of indoor ice itself.
Skylands Ice World has two Zamboni ice-resurfacing machines. The Zamboni ice-resurfacers that Skylands uses are powered by two propane tanks, and have V-4 Volswagen engines and four-wheel drive. Each machine provides more than 3,400 floods each year!
There are three things in life that people like to stare at: One is a rippling stream, another a fire in a fireplace, and the other is the Zamboni going around and around and around. — Charlie Brown
Before ice-resurfacing machines, ice rinks were resurfaced manually, using scrapers, towels, a water hose and squeegees. Resurfacing a regulation-size rink was time-consuming and labor-intensive. In the 1940s, Frank Zamboni began to experiment with building machines that would shave, scrape, wash and squeegee the ice surface all at once before putting down a fresh layer of water.
Early ice-resurfacing machines cost about $5,000 and were built by hand on war-surplus jeeps. Today, ice-resurfacing machines cost significantly more (about $55,000), are mass-produced, and every rink has at least one. Professional hockey teams routinely use two machines to cut down on the time needed to resurface the ice between periods. Most ice-resurfacing machines have a maximum speed of 9 to 10 mph (14 to 16 kph) and weigh between 5,000 and 6,000 pounds (2,300 to 2,700 kg)!
The NHL requires that two machines resurface the ice between periods Skylands uses just one at a time, but has one for each sheet of ice. The ice is resurfaced before the game/session. With one resurfacing machine, it takes 8-10 minutes to complete the floor, each making eight full passes up the ice.
The basic driving pattern is a clockwise motion of slightly overlapping ovals. The Facilities Director says that he uses 80 to 100 gallons (300 to 380 liters) of heated water between periods to resurface the ice. “With both machines, we can scrape about three-quarters of a bucket during each game.”
Most Zamboni ice resurfacers (like the one in this diagram) have a 77-inch long, 1/2-inch thick blade (A). The blade scrapes a 1/16-inch to 1/8-inch layer of ice off the ice surface. The blade runs the width of the machine and looks like a thick razor blade. The amount of ice taken off depends on the ice conditions. The rougher the ice surface (i.e., the more use it has had), the deeper the blade cuts.
Just above the blade is a horizontal, rotating screw, or auger (B). The auger gathers the shaved ice, or snow, and rotates it up to a vertical auger (C), where a spinning blade picks up the moving snow and throws it into the bucket (D). The bucket can hold an amazing 2,600 pounds (or 300 gallons) of snow!
Under the bucket, there are two tanks of water, one for “washing” the ice as it’s shaved and one for making ice. As the resurfacing machine moves over the ice, the blade shaves layers of the ice off. Water from the wash-water tank (E) is pumped over to a cleaner (F) that blasts the water into the deep cuts in the ice and forces out dirt and debris. The excess water left on the ice is squeegeed off with a rubber blade (known as a towel) at the back end of the machine (G) and vacuumed up. The hot water loosens the crystal structure of the old ice underneath, so the new ice will form a solid bond with the old ice, instead of a separate layer that chips off easily.
The last step is to resurface the ice. Warm water from the second water tank is pumped over to the squeegee blade and spread evenly over the ice. This softens and fills in the deep cuts in the ice and helps to even out its surface.
After the final pass on the ice, the operator returns the machine to its garage. At this point, the snow bucket is raised and the snow is dumped into the snow pit. As the snow melts, the pit is drained.
To Visitors, Customers and Employees of Skylands Ice World:
The matter of indoor air quality is controversial, much discussed and vitally important. From time to time we are asked about it at our facility. The purpose of this note is to describe the steps we have taken to address the issue and to assure you that we take air quality very seriously at Skylands Ice World. It’s our understanding that the State of New Jersey has not mandated indoor air quality standards for ice rinks, but we maintain an environment that would easily satisfy the requirements of the most stringent state-imposed regulations. We believe that the air inside our facility is safe.
Due to the use of the ice resurfacer to maintain a high quality ice surface, it is possible to have carbon monoxide in the rinks. Skylands Ice World strives to reduce or eliminate carbon monoxide in order to make our arena as safe as possible for customers and staff. The EPA has established a carbon monoxide permissible exposure level that is 35 ppm (parts per million) for an 8 – hour period and our tests reveal levels that are consistently at negligible levels.
We have done the following to reduce or eliminate carbon monoxide from the rinks:
Our ice resurfacers are fueled by propane, not gasoline, and are frequently tuned to minimize the exhaust of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. Our resurfacers have catalytic converters which are designed to further reduce emissions. The Zamboni ice resurfacers are warmed up in an enclosed and ventilated room so they will be at their lowest emission state when brought onto the ice.
EACH RINK IS CONSTANTLY MONITORED for Carbon Dioxide, Nitrogen Dioxide and Carbon Monoxide by sensors which are positioned where gases would be most concentrated. Should the level of any of these gases approach levels well below the EPA threshold, the fans and louvers automatically open in the rink HVAC system and bring in fresh air. This system was installed at the time Skylands was built. A similar and redundant system is embedded in the dehumidifiers that we installed more than two years ago.
If you have any questions regarding the air quality in the rink please speak to our General Manager, or our Director of Operations and Maintenance.