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It took five men 90 minutes each night to lay down a new sheet of ice. [Frank] Zamboni devoted the next eight years to replacing those five men and, when he did, it was with a machine only its mother could love. The awkward Model A Ice Resurfacer No. 1 sat on two old Dodge front ends and was powered by a war surplus jeep engine. A wooden bin caught the ice shavings. Despite its appearance, it resurfaced the ice in 15 minutes after scraping it, gathering up the shavings, washing the surface and then laying down a coat of fresh hot water that was spread by a towel.
These days, that "Model A Ice Resurfacer No. 1" is more typically referred to simply as a "Zamboni." A patent was granted in 1953, and by the late '60s, Frank Zamboni was selling machines to rinks and NHL franchises across the country. (Interesting side note: Zamboni initially wanted to call his company the "Paramount Engineering Company," but the name was taken, and he was forced to settle for his last name.)
Since the 1970s, the standard Zamboni machine has been the 500 series, which boasts a liquid-cooled engine; an "emission-free" Model 560AC electric resurfacer is also available. (Car and Driver has posted a pretty cool look at the controls of a 500 series Zamboni resurfacer.)
Frank Zamboni, who would have turned 112 today, died on July 27, 1988, in Long Beach, California. He was 87.