Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 23, 2014




June 23, 1953: US patent 2,642,679 is granted to Frank Zamboni. Frank was born in Eureka, Utah in 1901. The Italian immigrant family purchased a farm in Idaho, where Frank grew up. The family moved again to Los Angeles in 1920. Frank attended a trade school in Chicago and he and his younger brother, Lawrence, opened an electrical supply shop in 1922 back in the Los Angeles suburbs. Five years later, the brothers added an ice-making plant to their business and began supplying blocks of ice, which they continued to find profitable until 1939 when the need was dropping and another way to earn a living using their knowledge of ice and refrigeration was needed.

They opened an ice rink. The rink was popular because Frank had figured out a way to keep the ice from rippling due to the pipes used to keep the rink frozen. The rink is still in operation and still owned by the Zamboni family. Keeping the ice smooth was a laborious process. Three to four workers would have to scrape, wash, and then squeegee the ice. Then a thin layer of water would be added for a new layer of smooth, fresh ice. Between 1942 and 1947, Frank tried, unsuccessfully, to automate the process using a vehicle which could resurface the ice quickly.

In 1947, Frank used a machine that would shave, wash, and squeegee the ice and it was mounted on an army surplus vehicle chassis. It was powered by a Jeep engine and transmission. The blade would shave the ice and a conveyer belt would load the shavings into a tank. Unfortunately, the blade was deficient and the handling was a problem. By 1949 The Model A Zomboni Ice-Resurfacer was a functional piece of equipment. Although it originally had four wheel drive, this was abandoned for front wheel drive for better handling. Other improvements were added, but it was still not very aesthetically pleasing. One wit said it looked like the offspring of a field tractor and a warehouse crate. But it worked.

Increasingly better models were built, each with the next letter designation. Finally, on this day, a patent was granted. That didn’t stop the improvements from coming and a major shift came in 1964 which meant the shaved ice was moved away differently, allowing for disposal without the driver having to shovel out the holding tank. This has been the industry standard ever since. Frank J. Zamboni & Co. have taken a hard line on protecting their trademark. They have pursued the integrity of their company name and not permitted Zamboni to by synonymous with ice resurfacers. They received a registered trademark for their name on August 15, 2000. Frank was awarded 15 patents mostly on ice resurfacing equipment. He died in 1988 at the age of 87, but his company lives on with Richard Zamboni running the show.

There are three things in life that people like to stare at: a flowing stream, a crackling fire and a Zamboni clearing the ice. – Charlie Brown

In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I like ice hockey, but it’s a frustrating game to watch. It’s hard to keep your eyes on both the puck and the players and too much time passes between scoring in hockey. There are usually more fights than there are points. – Andy Rooney

Figure skating is theatrical. It’s artistic. It’s elegant. It’s extremely athletic. And there’s a very specific audience for that. – Johnny Weir

Also on this day: Mutiny on the Discovery – In 1611, Henry Hudson’s crew mutinies.
Clackity clack – In 1868, an improved typewriter was patented.
Lorena and John – In 1993, domestic violence made the world headlines.
Banff – In 1887, the Rocky Mountains Park Act of Canada was passed.

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One Response

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  1. vanbraman said, on June 24, 2014 at 2:07 am

    Nice to see the history of the Zamboni. I am surprised that it too them so long to get a trademark.

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