Sunday, November 19, 2006

First Time: Not A Charm

That was your humble correspondent on the Zamboni Saturday night (11/18) being humbled by the Zamboni. Wanna know what happened?

I got their early, expecting to put the finishing touches on the ice after the concert Friday night, but the full-time guys had already taken care of it. The ice looked really good. The resurfacing between the warm-up and first period went really well. I got it done fast, took off just the right amound of snow, and the ice looked good.

I missed small strips in two corners - the one just left of of the Zamboni entrance, and the one across the ice and at the other end. I swear those corners feel tighter than the other two. Something about them makes that second lap seem impossible not to miss. It was frustrating but not terrible.

The real fun began in the first intermission. Something felt different when I lowered the conditioner and started the conveyors. It felt like it was shaving way too deep. I continued - failing to trust my instinct - assuming that everything was set and I had no worries. Going by the team benches, I lowered the blade a turn, to give extra cut through all the skate marks there and the whole machine bogged down, it was cutting really deep then.

At the end of the benches I brought it back up, but it still felt like it was shaving too deep - taking off too much ice below the loose snow. With each pass up the ice, I raised the cutting blade a little more but it did not seem to have any effect. When I tried to speed up in the straightaways, it bogged down and struggled. I could also feel the conveyor clogging and had to use the ice breaker almost constantly.

Finally, about halfway through the resurfacing the snow collection tank was completely filled. Fine ice and snow was coming out of every crack of the tank. It packed in completely, and backed up down the verticle conveyor, causing it to almost freeze up. Fortunately, I was headed down the middle, toward the tunnel. I motioned to the rest of the crew, blew off the ice, quickly dumped about 125 cubic feet of snow, and blasted back out onto the ice.

Yeah, I missed a big spot when I returned to the ice and set down the conditioner right away. They stopped the clock at some point during the fiasco. The full-time staff thought I was running out of propane and did not know to switch tanks, but the problem was the overfilled snow tank.

We checked everything out during the second period. I have no blooming idea why it cut so deep, nor why the blade would not rise up when I cranked it. It moved just fine after we cleared everything out. So, we raised it up to where it would not be cutting at all, and I adjusted it when I out for the second intermission.

I was rather gun-shy at that point. I didn't want to fill the tank again and have to leave, and I was worried about the ice depth - I really did not want to cut out a line or logo! So, I was very conservative with the blade.

That's why the ice looked a little rough for the third period. I did not take off enough for that resurfacing.

Live and learn. Actually for pro games I really like the 2-Zamboni system. You never have to worry about something like this happening. But, no excuses. I was the driver, I did it - my fault.

The teams got great ice to skate on for the second period because I cut deeper than most of the skate grooves and their third period ice wasn't the greatest but wasn't terrible. The bosses just chuckled about it with me and were not upset. Thankfully.

I probably won't be there Wednesday night. I have to work at my regular job.

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