I last wrote about my Community Ice Rink on December 11 when a group of us shovelled an area of 50×100 feet, during a snowstorm, to create banks in which to hold water when I flood. It took us 90 minutes, and it was too late, and I was too tired when we finished, to go to my spin class. This is what it looked like the next morning.
Unfortunately, we had warm temperatures for the next couple weeks causing the entire snowbank, which was about a metre tall in places, to melt away. The temperature each day from the December 12th to the 29th was at or above zero rising as high as 10 degrees Celsius on a couple days.
When the temperature finally dropped to ice making levels about January 5 we had no snow to use to build a border and none in the forecast. On Tuesday January 6, the diamond was frozen solid. It went down to about -17 degrees overnight so I decided to try to spray a thin layer of water to see if I could get it to stay and not all run off the the low end of the diamond. When I got out there the water would not turn on, despite the fact that it had been repaired on November 27 and I had tested it to make sure I could turn it on.
I asked the City of Brampton for help. They scheduled a plumber for Wednesday afternoon and agreed to deliver snow for the borders. Over the course of the afternoon they delivered about a dozen trucks of snow. They asked me to mark out where I wanted the borders to go.
Back in December the City delivered two barriers to block the opening to the diamond. When the weather was warm they sank into the gravel, then, with the sudden plunge to minus double digit cold, they froze solid. Here two City employees try to pry them out of the ground. In the end, because the metal was brittle due to the cold, the broke both of them.
The first load is dumped in the picture below. I asked if they could drive along as the snow tipped out creating a line, but it came out so fast that it created a large pile of icy boulders. There was no way I was going to be able to spread it with a shovel.
It is surprising how little snow fits in a truck compared to what falls out of the sky. Here it is on Thursday morning after about sixteen loads.
The Park Manager brought in a tractor to tidy up the edges, but it broke down after the long side on the left.
Due to the problems we keep having with the water I asked for the standpipe to be sheltered. This is what they initially did.
A day later I was sitting at home typing a note to my City contact about the rink when I saw a large hut go by on a flatbed truck.
I threw on my coat and boots and headed over to the rink. The hut has brackets on it to allow it to be lifted by a crane and put into place.
The hut was placed over the standpipe. There is a trapdoor in the bottom and a skylight in the roof. It’s quite nice.
Here it is in place. It was a very cold and windy day. You can see the wind whipping the snow around.
Earlier that day we spent some time clearing a small snowfall, tidying the banks and building a bank at the entrance where the trucks were driving in and out. Michael is on the left and Kamal is on the right.
Now all we needed was water. The banks were good and the weather was cold. Unfortunately, the plumber didn’t make it out before the weekend. On Sunday we spent a little more time moving the banks back.
Monday morning, January 12, the plumber arrived and used compressed air to blow out the self-draining valve buried six feet underground below the frost line and I was in business.
I started out Monday afternoon by wetting down about an inch of snow that had fallen. I let that freeze for a few hours. Last year, we discovered that one end of the rink is lower than the other, so this year I decided to start flooding the low end to build it up a bit before flooding the whole rink. I did that Monday night and Tuesday morning. We also found that thin layers of water work better than deep floods. When the banks are leaky and the water deep, the water will freeze on top and run out underneath creating air pockets that break when pressure is applied (shell ice). When it is -10 degrees or colder thin layers will freeze in 10 or 15 minutes.
I was also advised by the City last year to keep the hose inside my house which I did for most of the season. However, I kept it in the garage in March and didn’t have a problem with it freezing. So I decided to try leaving it in the garage on Monday night. It must have been much warmer in my garage last March than it was Monday night, as we ended up with a plug of ice in the end of the hose and nozzle which took a while to clear. We also had trouble turning off the water, but were able to do so after running it for a while.
On Tuesday I was out for six and a half hours and flooded twelve layers. On Wednesday, I flooded morning and evening. On Thursday, I flooded deeply in the morning as the rink was fairly level, but unfortunately this revealed a leaky bank at the low end and created a lot of shell ice. Most of the time I had someone helping: Newman, Kamal, Mohit, Bryan, Bobby, Michael or Prashant. Thanks guys.
Thursday night we had more plumbing excitement. The water wouldn’t turn off. We called the City, who called the Region, who came out, but couldn’t find the emergency shut-off or turn the water off at the standpipe. We left it running all night at a low rate to keep it from freezing up. I expected the outfield to be full of water in the morning, but it wasn’t too bad.
In the morning I went out with hot water and melted the ice off the nozzle then flooded every half hour or so, since I had to keep the water running anyway, until the plumber came and got the water turned off. Apparently, we had turned it on too far.
Friday afternoon we opened after just four days of work. Last year it took twelve days. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough and when I got there at 3:50pm to open up people were waiting to go on the ice. I had my first skate since breaking my wrist and managed to stay upright.
The first people on the ice.