The Zamboni Story

 

Model E (1954)

Each of the machines designated Model A through Model D varied from one another as Frank improved the succeeding machine over the previous one. The Model E, introduced in 1954 was the first standardized design he settled on and between 1954 and 1955, 20 of these models were manufactured and sold.

The NHL Boston Bruins along with nine other purchasers ordered Zamboni Model E’s in 1954 and the Bruins took delivery of Model E21 in the fall of that year. In 1988, the Boston Bruins had a new Zamboni machine on order and requested that the vintage machine, Model E 21, be fully restored by the Zamboni Company. When the restored machine was delivered and turned over in an on ice ceremony at Boston Garden, it was announced that E 21 would be delivered to the Hockey Hall of Fame as a part of their historic collection in Toronto, Canada.

The first use of a Zamboni machine for an NHL game has been the subject of discussion for many years, so Zamboni contacted Bob Skrak who worked for Ice Capades in the 1950’s and drove Zamboni machine No. 4, a Model B, to resurface the ice for the shows. Bob helped Frank Zamboni in the early days when he took machines around the country and introduced the arena managers to the “invention” which could significantly improve their ice sheet’s surface and enhance the quality of the ice for skating and hockey.

On New Years Day in 1954, Bob was on hand in the Boston Garden for the ice show and there was an NHL Bruins hockey game to be played that day in the arena. Bob took the machine out on the ice and resurfaced for the Bruins game and the management was impressed with the results. The only thing that stood in the way of having a machine on hand in the Garden was the fact that they would have to remove seats from the arena’s configuration to navigate from its storage area to the ice surface.

In the mid-50s, the popularity of ice skating increased dramatically, as did new rink construction. Frank found that rink owners wanted machines with more snow and water capacity, so he redesigned the resurfacer, abandoned a complete Jeep as a platform, and substituted a Jeep chassis that he bought directly from the Willys factory.

 

Model F (1956)

In 1956, Frank redesigned the machine using a stripped Jeep chassis. By eliminating the Jeep body and using the chassis as a foundation, Frank was able to increase both water and snow carrying capacities. On some versions of the Model F, he raised the panels on the sides of the machine by six inches — an adaptation that provided an additional 20 cubic feet. This gave his customers even more capacity as needed on outdoor skating surfaces.

See the old Model F in action. (1.3mb MPEG movie.)

HD Series (1964)

Frank never stopped experimenting with new innovations and enhancements. In 1964, he introduced the HD Series, with a completely new vertical auger system to convey the snow and a quick-dumping snow tank. The revolutionary aspects of the HD remain the standard of the industry today — more than 30 years after they were brought to market. The Model HD was the first production dumping machine not built on a Jeep chassis.

500 Series (1978 to Present)

The Model 500 introduced a liquid-cooled vs. earlier air-cooled engines along with other improvements in its fuel powered resurfacers. The Model 550 was the world’s first production battery powered machine and with the Model 552, Zamboni had an efficient electric resurfacer which was emission-free and capable of completing the resurfacings required by a busy arena.

In 2010, the Zamboni Company introduced the Model 560AC electric resurfacer which redefines the industry standard for emission-free efficiency and performance and allows automation of many of the processes which were manual tasks prior to the technologies brought to life with this new machine. The 500 Series is the world’s most popular ice resurfacer and is most likely the machine that you will see in your local arena; on NHL ice and in international ice sport competitions.

From the 1949 Model A to the 500 Series resurfacers of today, Frank Zamboni’s desire to develop the best possible product for his customers remains as strong in his successors over 60 years later. As Frank often pointed out to rink owners, a comment indicative of his own lifelong mission:

“The principal product you have to sell is the ice itself.”