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DIY Winter Ice Rinks

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  • DIY Winter Ice Rinks

    OK so almost every year we make rinks out on the lake. Now I get that lakes because of the constant making of ice you get the cracks and such and also you have to deal with other variables that backyard rinks don't have to deal with but is there an easy way to keep the ice smooth without making a diy zamboni? I did pick up a few months ago a 2" gas clear water pump that i'm thinking about using on nights when I know it will be calm and i can just flood it to get a nice coating. any suggestions would be great the easier the better.

    btw here is the pump i got. I did not pick it up from here just the first link i could find.
    https://shop.midsouthag.com/products...160-5hp-engine

  • #2
    I used to live near an old duffer that made a rink on the lake in front of his house every season for the neighborhood. That guy had it down to a science.

    So, while I am by no means an expert, a few things I do remember about his process from when I was a kid, was helping him fill cracks with slush and then scraping them smooth with a flat shovel, sweeping the ice after it was shoveled, and his old (somewhat ancient looking) on demand water heater. He had shore power at his dock that he’d run a small pump to draw water from a hole in the lake and then cycled it through the heater before flooding. I doubt that’s really necessary, and don’t know if you even have the capacity to do similar in your location, but I can definitely see merits in melting the surface as you recoat to help fill in any imperfections…. and, Zambonis use hot water, so I guess it makes sense.

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    • #3
      +1 to 86 tips above which we used for pond hockey, and to a quick pump flood over when calm.

      Oz will be along to shed MN lake hockey tech.
      Last edited by moosehead; 01-06-2022, 01:32 PM.

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      • #4
        I've been messing with our pond the last couple years. I don't have it down pat, but here's some things I've learned:
        You want to get big snow falls cleared off as quick as possible. It weighs down the ice, the ice cracks, then floods the snow, turns it to slush, then freezes and ruins your sheet.

        When you first clear the snow, make sure you clear as much area as you will ever want for ice. Once the snow on the edge gets wet from your maintenance, you will never get rid of that edge. You want a good edge to keep overflow water from coming into your area (from issue listed above).

        Flooding is the best way, but it's tricky. There can't be cracks, otherwise the top of the water will freeze over, but underneath will drain through the cracks leaving you with a thin hollow ice shell on top that breaks away easily. You can't drag a hose around while flooding. The water starts to slush up and moving the hose disturbs that slush and makes a bunch of very rough ice when you're done. You need a high enough flow pump to flood the area before it starts freezing to get a good flat surface. Otherwise the water won't flow and will build up close to your pump source. I use a 1/3 HP sump pump, and I don't think it's quite enough on cold days. I have yet to have a completely successful flood.

        Why are you against the homemade zamboni? I made one really cheap out of a garbage can, PVC, and old towels. It's the best/easiest way to maintain the ice and get the best flat surface.

        I got a flat shovel, think normal garden shovel but with a flat edge instead of pointed. I sharpened the edge a little and use that for shaving off rough spots. Dragging it across the top with blade vertical is great to show/find the rough spots.

        I clear with a quad and snow blade once there's 4-5" of ice. Otherwise, you can buy those wide plastic push shovels to clear the light snows fast. Or use a shovel in each hand, holding them together as one big wide one. You can clear light snows off faster if you put your skates on.

        Make a little 2x4 bench to sit on for putting skates on/off.

        Great topic, I'm interested in everyone's methods/tricks.

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        • #5
          Here's my garbage canboni and the start of my maintenence this year.

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          • #6
            it isn't that i'm 100% against a zamboni it is more i'm lazy. to do it right from what i've read you really need to have the water hot and while all the other pieces are pretty easily done that part of the project is the part that always gets to me, how do i heat it up easily. As for water that is not an issue it is a very clean spring fed lake so water quantity is not an issue. Thanks for the cracks issue i've been using the water/snow mix for cracks for a while now. As for water volume that i can put on top I am hoping that 2" pump does the job on cold calm nights. Anyway any other tips are greatly appreciated maybe soon i'll have some pictures as the lake is still not froze over.......

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            • #7
              I don't think the hot water makes that much difference. I think the big thing is you lay down a thin consistent layer of water. The small amount of water heat has very little impact on the giant mass of the ice. Also the water quickly runs off the high spots, so it doesn't have much time to melt them. Yes, hot water is better, but it isn't required.

              it's negative 5 here tonight. I was just out trying to work on mine on the dark, and it was tough. There is also a giant 1/4" crack that has just formed. I tried filling it in and flooding, but it got too cold for my fingers. I've got a pretty big low spot on the one end in trying to bring up. I made some progress tonight, but not as much as I'd like.

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              • #8
                I forgot to mention I don't even use hot water. I just use my cold water spigot, so it's probably 55 degree water.

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                • #9
                  how big of a pump do you use to flood with? I actually picked up the 2" pump for this specific reason because everything i've ever tried before is just to little, to slow and ends up not working or barely working.

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                  • #10
                    I only have a 1/3 HP sump pump. It's not enough. I have a little transfer pump that I also added last night. Your 5HP pump should be more than enough. Have you tried it before? If not, just so you know, you'll need additional water to prime it. You need to fill the pump and then start it quickly. It's not a seldom priming pump. Sometimes you have to be pouring water in while someone else starts it.

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                    • #11
                      I used it just not on ice. It primes pretty easy it has a large hole in the top that takes about a gallon to a gallon and a half. plug it up, start it up and wow does it push a lot of water Thanks for the heads up though that would suck burning out that inner bearing those are not cheap.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by bcd View Post
                        I've been messing with our pond the last couple years. I don't have it down pat, but here's some things I've learned:
                        You want to get big snow falls cleared off as quick as possible. It weighs down the ice, the ice cracks, then floods the snow, turns it to slush, then freezes and ruins your sheet.

                        When you first clear the snow, make sure you clear as much area as you will ever want for ice. Once the snow on the edge gets wet from your maintenance, you will never get rid of that edge. You want a good edge to keep overflow water from coming into your area (from issue listed above).

                        Flooding is the best way, but it's tricky. There can't be cracks, otherwise the top of the water will freeze over, but underneath will drain through the cracks leaving you with a thin hollow ice shell on top that breaks away easily. You can't drag a hose around while flooding. The water starts to slush up and moving the hose disturbs that slush and makes a bunch of very rough ice when you're done. You need a high enough flow pump to flood the area before it starts freezing to get a good flat surface. Otherwise the water won't flow and will build up close to your pump source. I use a 1/3 HP sump pump, and I don't think it's quite enough on cold days. I have yet to have a completely successful flood.

                        Why are you against the homemade zamboni? I made one really cheap out of a garbage can, PVC, and old towels. It's the best/easiest way to maintain the ice and get the best flat surface.

                        I got a flat shovel, think normal garden shovel but with a flat edge instead of pointed. I sharpened the edge a little and use that for shaving off rough spots. Dragging it across the top with blade vertical is great to show/find the rough spots.

                        I clear with a quad and snow blade once there's 4-5" of ice. Otherwise, you can buy those wide plastic push shovels to clear the light snows fast. Or use a shovel in each hand, holding them together as one big wide one. You can clear light snows off faster if you put your skates on.

                        Make a little 2x4 bench to sit on for putting skates on/off.

                        Great topic, I'm interested in everyone's methods/tricks.
                        This is exactly what we do at the cabin. "Flood" with a couple 70 GPM pumps with a couple of people working the hoses. Then we use the homemade zamboni with hot water to resurface. Thing works great! You need to get the snow off as quickly as possible after it falls. After clearing with the ATV plow, we use hand shovels and then a broom. That helps from slush forming when you flood or use the zamboni.
                        Attached Files
                        WaterSkis.com - Boat Part Look Up Tool

                        MidwestWaterSports.com
                        (Previously known as Midwest MasterCraft)

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                        • #13

                          Great question and second all of the previous points!

                          We have been doing a pond ice rink for 18 years now and unfortunately if you want smooth ice there doesn't seem to be any (inexpensive) way to cut corners and still have great ice.

                          There are a few products that either melt or shave the ice to help with the process:
                          Other than buying a Zamboni or using the above items, there doesn't seem to be any real substitute for flooding the rink other than nature which can sometimes melt too much and can cause bumps when refreezing. Getting the snow off quickly definitely is key and an ATV or garden tractor with a blade or snow blower can help if that works for your location.

                          We didn't find that the lake pump provided adequate water pressure no matter how large the pump was. A 300' Flexzilla hose using a custom plumbed valve off of the irrigation line and a large hose reel were key for our rink. When everything works well, I can flood the rink with a thin layer of water in under an hour with a home made rink rake. Too much water and you may end up with bumpy ice.

                          Good luck and as Red Green would say, "keep your stick on the ice!"

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                          • #14
                            Here's my current status. I had a big low spot in the middle that I finally got filled this morning. I just ran the zamboni around the outside that I didn't flood. I used pond water to fill it and it seemed to work just fine.

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                            • #15
                              Apparently my pre zamboni picture didn't take, and I ended up loading 2 after zamboni pictures.

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