January 16, 2011

Great Day for Skates

On this date in 1866, Everett Hosmer Barney got a patent for “clamp-on” roller skates that would attach to normal shoes and tighten with a key.

Barney was a Civil War arms producer who needed a new industry when the war was over. His invention made him a very rich man!

On this date in 1901, Frank Zamboni was born in Utah. He grew up to invent an ice re-surfacer we still call a zamboni.

It's important to have smooth ice for figure skating, skate races, and ice hockey. Before Zamboni invented the zamboni, several workers would have to scrape the ice with tractors, then shovel away the scrapings, and finally hose down the surface. People would still have to wait longer for the water to freeze into the new, fresh surface.

Zambonis do all three steps in one: a blade shaves the ice smooth, a device sweeps up the shavings, and another apparatus rinses the ice with a very thin layer of water that freezes in less than a minute. Within a very short time, one worker can drive a zamboni up and down an ice rink and create a smooth new ice surface.

Go skating today!
Roller blades, roller skates...
...or ice skates!

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