If you are a gearhead that’s ever attended a hockey game, you’ve wanted to drive the Zamboni. The Zamboni is of course the machine that lumbers out onto the ice between periods and resurfaces the rink to give players and skaters a fresh sheet of glass-like ice to glide around on. Modern Zamboni machines are self contained units that look like a big box with four wheels on the bottom. The driver has a couple levers, some knobs and a handle or two that control a few functions of the ‘Boni. This wasn’t always the case, as you’ll see in the video below.
The first Zamboni was built in 1949 by a 9th grade drop out named Frank Zamboni. It was a collection of Jeep, tractor, and other parts along with a big wooden hopper, a tractor seat, and a menagerie of levers, wheels, handles, and exposed moving parts. Prior to the invention of this machine, resurfacing the ice would take up to an hour and a half and wouldn’t be near as nice as the way Zamboni’s “Ice Resurfacer” did it.
After building the “Model A” you will see actually work in the video below, Zamboni began building the next generation of machines using war surplus Jeeps which could be had very cheap. They also got a lot smaller as the whole unit was basically set right over top of the Jeep. This made them shorter and easier to operate.
It is pretty neat when someone’s name becomes a word in the normal lexicon of the English language and Zamboni’s may be the most well known of all. We really dig the fact that this machine was the work of a crafty gearhead as opposed to a team of engineers. When you see this contraption moving and working on the ice it looks like the greatest Rube Goldberg machine of all time. Take note of how good a job it does, too!
Press play below and watch one of the truly unique American inventions of all time go to work!