My Rink History
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Kevin Hobbs' Backyard Rink 2002/03
Bridgewater, CT  USA


February 2003

Kevin writes: 
"This is our third and largest rink at 24' x 48'. This season has been great, the ice has been excellent and we have done a lot of skating.

We flooded on Dec. 3 and skated on Dec. 6. As of Feb. 3, we have skated a total of 23 days and at this time it looks like we will get several more days at least. We also had a lot more guests this year. 39 different people have been on the ice.

Our friends at the Bridgewater Volunteer Fire Department flooded the rink. It took about 20 minutes to dump 2000 gallons. Last year the rink was 20x40 and we took 4000 gallons because we were off level by about 12". 

It looked level.... Last fall we brought in 16 yards of dirt. Now it IS level. It was a lot of work but worth it.

Kyle is 11 this year and he now helps me clear the ice after skating. We can do it in 12 minutes. I put my boots on and sweep from the clean side using a whisk broom. Kyle keeps his skates on and from the dirty side, he shovels what I have swept.

We like to skate at night. We have two spotlights on the house and Christmas lights strung around the rink. We also make ice lanterns which provide more ambience than light. We make these by filling 5 gallon buckets with water. After a day or two they have frozen on the top and sides but the bottom and center still have water. We bring them inside for about an hour, then back outside, turn them over and dump the ice. We spill the water out (sometimes we have to chisel a little if ice has formed).
Where the water was a cavity remains ... into which we put a candle. They are very easy to make. At one time we had about 20 scattered around the yard.

Major Improvements:

  • This year we built a rink kit that will make it easier to set up next year. The boards are 16" high made of 5/8" plywood (one 4x8 sheet yields 3 boards). The boards are supported by brackets made from 2x12 triangles spiked to the ground. I painted everything with white deck paint. I used a 6 mil. 100x32 sheet of Film-Gard plastic for the liner. We cut it in half to get a double layer. We didn't use any staples this year, instead, we captured the poly under a 1x2 that runs along the top of the boards. The 16" boards are high enough to keep drifting snow off the ice.
  • Snow-blower. We've only used it twice but it is great when there is more than a few inches of snow.

Problems Encountered:

  • Bubbles formed under the plastic during flooding. Our friend and local hero Walt Barlow got into the water and skillfully pushed the air out using a shovel with foam pipe insulation fit over the edge.  Next year I want to form a slight depression in the center of the rink so the water fills from the center and pushes the air out as it fills. Also we will put down the plastic when there is NO wind. If all else fails, I will be ready with a large paint roller and water-proof boots.
  • After the initial freeze in early Dec., we got snow, sleet and rain. The ground had not yet frozen and the snow insulated the ice to the ground so we were left with snow on top of slush and ice that couldn't be shoveled. We had to wait until the return of cold weather in January before we could remove the snow and then it took a few days to get the rink back into shape.
  • We learned that resurfacing when it is too cold can cause problems. The water freezes before it levels and the new layer tends to crack and doesn't melt the existing ice so you get a thin layer of ice on top of the existing ice. If it is very cold, I will try to resurface during the warmest time of day rather than the coldest as I had done previously.

Planned improvements for next year:

  • Four feet wider, eight feet longer. Begin filling for eventual rink size of 100 x 40.
  • Puck boards: The plastic sheet is destroyed at the ice line. Does anyone know what type of plastic it is and where I can get some.
  • Rounded corners?
  • Wind protected spectator seating with heat. We tried a fire in a 50 gal. drum but there was too much smoke & ash and not enough heat."

Lots of tips ... great job and thanks for the pic Kevin.



Last Updated on Aug 31, 2003