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DIY Winter Ice Rinks

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  • #16
    Originally posted by jackpine View Post
    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!"
    wow you have some nice looking ice. Thanks for the links i've seen the dragon before and that thing is awesome we do use a weed burning torch to help out with the ice but that dragon is on another level it is sweet. Never seen the ice mower before thanks, it looks like it has been around since 2003. Now i'm all for dangerous projects and toys but that one surely takes the cake IMHO that thing is just scary, but does a good job.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by moosehead View Post
      Oz will be along to shed MN lake hockey tech.
      Funny, I stumbled onto this thread right after clearing our rink this afternoon. I'm totally bummed, with our lake drawn down this year, the ice is really bad (pits, soft spots, uneven shelfs and huge cracks) uggggg, I have a lot of work ahead of me

      Kevin and Jack represented MN well with some sound advice . Seriously though, all good advice on this thread.

      In addition to snowblowers, and various home Zamboni / flooding techniques, we found this to be a key tool in the battle with nature;

      https://www.amazon.com/SNOWPLOW-5054...004CSMBMG?th=1


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      • #18
        I was thinking which is always a dangerous thing and it came to me that during the summer i see countless yard sweepers on the side of the road for free. I am curious if i threw a small weed eater engine or similar on one and made a long handle how well that would work for sweeping ice.

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        • #19
          DIY Pete has some entertaining rink building ideas and seems to have quite a bit invested in his Rocky Mountain rink.

          At about 16 min into the video he demos a power sweeper that might be what you are looking for:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqX0Ai6_KXg

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          • #20
            I've actually been watching his channel and waiting for his fill video this year as well. he has some good info and i had the exact same issues as he had last year. clear ice, get it smooth, instant ice and snow fall then warm, then snow then garbage ice again, rinse repeat all year.

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            • #21
              https://youtu.be/yzIzbbwrkaY

              If you jump to about 10 minutes in, this shows probably the easiest, least hassle zamboni set up. Just make sure you get a very flexible hose. They can really get stiff in cold weather. I'm going to try the bucket dump method shown on the diy Pete video.

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              • #22
                The bucket dump method doesn't work well if it's 10 degrees out and windy. The water froze so fast, it didn't have time to level out and I didn't have time to refill the garbage can to dump the next load of water.

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                • #23
                  If the bucket flooding isn’t the ticket, and you have a supply of water to the rink and a rink rake (diy or otherwise), simply turn the rink rake over so the holes point upwards on your first pass and walk backwards to avoid making footprints on the freshly flooded areas. It will flood the rink without making ridges due to the water flow. You can even smooth it further by attaching a zam cloth or other material (fleece, old towel, etc) to the rink rake. The first pass may take awhile if there is a lot of snow, but successive floodings should be quicker.

                  diy rink rake instructions:

                  https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OG0DVkgYQT8

                  If you want a more durable rink rake, make it out of 1” copper instead of PVC (which is very brittle at low temperatures) and use quick connect hose connectors for ease of use:


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                  • #24
                    I actually bought the parts last night. My garbage canboni is a lot of work to fill all the time. Hoping to try it out tonight. I was trying the bucket dump because I've got a low section on the middle I'm trying to build up.

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                    • #25

                      One thing that was difficult to learn early in our rink building days was poor water pressure combined with cold temps almost always lead to hoses freezing up or water freezing too fast on the rink. Carting hoses, pumps, ice augers and rink rakes down to the rink was a hassle and everything would freeze up in a hurry.

                      A couple tips for those that are newer to this crazy (so my wife says) hobby:
                      • Keep the water running until you are done flooding to prevent freeze ups (i.e running water does not freeze)
                      • Try to be efficient when beginning & ending flooding especially in colder temps or things can get frustrating (see above)
                      • Also, when using a hose, always start from furthest side of the rink to avoid dragging hoses or walking on the part you just flooded.
                      • Flexzilla hoses which seem less likely to become stiff or kink in cold weather.
                      • Brass quick connect hose connections saved a lot of frustration as well (FYII: these seem to wear out & need replacing every few years)
                      • If you have any shutoff valves, make sure they are full flow valves they don't restrict water pressure.
                      • Move items (nets, rink rakes, hay bales, pucks, etc.) on the ice frequently or they may freeze in

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                      • #26
                        A small update on my end. So even though we still have open water on the late we have about 1/2" right now around the pier which is more than enough reason to get the pump out and play I will say this it was about 20 deg F with about a 10mph wind, not the best conditions. I started it up and ran it for about 5 minutes spraying ice and i can say it will be a learning curve but I do believe for those with lakes and a nearly unlimited supply of water this might be a good solution. The area that i put a lot of water on and stayed there for a bit of time are not quite as nice as the areas i put a lot of water on and stayed there a short period of time. I know that sounds a bit confusing but I what i'm trying to say is I believe a quick rinse over the top of the ice with a 2" or larger pump and not really just flooding it deep might be the way to go as it is like glass in the areas i basically rinsed with it. I'll keep it updated on how it is going and how it turns out. Now i just need enough ice to stand on out there and feel safe.....

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                        • #27
                          My ice is finally coming along. We had a few days in the 40s this week that melted a lot of our snow, but we got 3-4" yesterday. I plowed the pond off and tried out the new rake. My sump pump wouldn't pump water through this morning. Not sure if there was water in my hose that froze when I was getting everything ready or what the problem was. I had everything inside and got it set up as fast as I could. I went out later and used a diaphragm transfer pump and it worked great.

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                          • #28
                            There's 8-10" of ice on our pond right now.

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                            • #29
                              Ug, how hard can it be to make ice in Minnesota they say? Well, darn hard! I've done 5 backyard rinks and now one on our lake. This year I decided to skip the whole thing because it is a PITA and I don't skate. I got tired of being the nice guy so I gave it up. But down on our lake there is a guy that is a pro, major pro. He tops off 8 rinks on our lake for neighbors. #1 no cracks! He says fill them with slush and let them freeze for an hour before he pumps water on it. #2 a big pump. He has a 2" gas powered pump on the back of his ATV. He rolls up, checks for cracks, drills a hole to get water, drops his line in and fires up the pump. He can lay down 1/2-1" of water in minutes on the biggest of areas. #3 Don't add water when the sun is out or it is not at least below 25, preferably <20 degrees. He bops around the lake right after dark and does his thing. His ice is flawless and it takes him no time to cover all the rinks he helps with.

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                              • #30
                                Well last night we had freezing rain. it is supposed to be in the mid 30's the next few days and the ice is still to thin. However the good news is it is total garbage on top and later in the week it is supposed to drop so I will get to test out flooding again. Hey you gotta be a glass half full type of person right.

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