Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Chitty Chity Bang Bang, I Love You!

Wow, what a game! Tonight's game 1 Cyclones/Stingrays 2010 Kelly Cup Playoffs was an absolute smoker. All the pre-game buzz was about the 5 AHL players sent down to South Carolina would make them unstoppable. Their morning skate impressed everybody; but the Cyclones poured the coals to them with a stunning 6-1 victory.

If you were there, you saw my breakdown in the 2nd Intermission. Making the first pass up the middle of the ice I felt the Zamboni lurch and make an odd noise, then get more quiet than normal. Bad news. I looked up to see their was no snow going from the vertical conveyor to the dump tank.

Problem: Chain off.

The chain that drives the horizontal conveyor came off. Actually, the hydraulic pump than drives the chain came loose, causing the slack that caused the chain to pop off. It's a 15 year old machine and as I've mentioned in prior posts, Zamboni machines have a hard life. They are either turned off or running 100%; they get very few "easy" hours of operation. Occasionally, all that vibration causes something to break or come loose; thus, tonight's malfunction.

Luckily, we have a back-up machine at US Bank Arena. Affectionately known as "Chitty," short of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, our old 1975 model HDB still runs. It's different to drive - you have to manually keep the RPM's at 2500-2800 with the pedal instead of just setting it with a lever on the model 520. If you let them drop too low, it "lugs" the engine and can cause valve damage - and just clog up the snow. But; if you run it too high, it can overheat, stall, and eventually blow the motor. Switching mid-resurfacing from one style to the other is a little odd but it is manageable.

The delay from getting out there was we had to fill Chitty with water. Maybe we should have it filled for every game, but for the once or twice a year, max, that it is needed it just isn't worth wasting the water and risking the tank rusting worse.

Also if you noticed me driving in circles when I first went out with Chitty, there are two reasons. First, I needed to set the blade shaving depth. It was very high so it wasn't shaving the ice at all. Once the water is turned on, you can't see how much is being shaved. When it is cutting cry, you can see when the ice turns nice and smooth. Secondly, during all those loops I picked up all the snow I had to leave on the ice from the breakdown. It is best to take up those huge piles in small chunks. I hear Twister had some fun with snowballs...

All in all, the delay was only about 7 or 8 minutes and the ice was good.