Monday, January 10, 2011

Backyard Rink Chronicles Pt. 4


A review of the 2nd full day of skating.

It was considerably colder Sunday than it had been on Saturday. Particularly when the wind got cranked up.

You'll recall that I was too beat to do anything Saturday night.

So, the couple inches of snow that fell on the ice really didn't do anything for better or for worse and the ice was basically the same condition it had been when I went to bed Saturday. The first thing I did was sweep off and flood. I was using a hose (instead of a bucket) and about halfway between mist and full flow.

My intent was to get rid of some of the bumps from the first day, particularly around the edges where the water had come up, then frozen into irregular lumps.

I also packed some snow into the corners at the shallow end and poured water on it, hoping to just get an ice base down, even if it was all lumpy and unskateable.

It was cold enough that both goals were met within an hour.

Other events conspired to keep us off the ice until about 3:30 in the afternoon. I don't know if that helped or not, but when we finally got out there, the ice was very good. Harder than Saturday and less overall leaking around the edges. The snow that we were cutting with our skates was finer and less fluffy than before - and I'm sure there's all kinds of scientific reasons why, but, to this layperson, it just meant better ice.

We put in about an hour on the ice, then I swept it clean and did a big flood. I also packed more snow in on the corners of the shallow end and really dumped water on them too. I was really going for smooth.

I went out a couple hours later and the corners were definitely icing up. I added more water just to them to try to build up the thickness of the ice.

The rest of it was nice and smooth, the big flooding having frozen nicely.

We got a dusting of snow last night, but the ice was well frozen by the time it started coming down so it froze nice and even.

I'm not sure how much use we'll get on it during the week. We're going to try to rig some more christmas lights over it so we'll likely be able to get some light back there.

The biggest things I've learned so far is the value of letting it freeze in layers. As far as the pitch of the yard making it uneven, I might put down one or two sheets of plywood in the "deep" end before I lay the tarp next year to try to level it off. I'm not sure if the weight of the water would warp/break the plywood, though.

I haven't used too much warm water yet, it's been mostly cold water. But it has frozen nicely for me so far.

That, and it's been totally worth it. Even my wife was saying that, next year, she'd like me to do a bigger one. While 15 x 25 is just fine for the kids just learning to skate, you really can't do too much on that size.

I've invested about $400 so far.

*The tarp was about $60
*The wood about $100
*The hose, nozzle, nails, rubber gloves, brackets and tamper were about $85 total
*The regulation (6 x 4) goal was $100
*The pucks were $15
*The kid sticks were about $40 (2 x $20)

I'm not sure what the water is going to cost because I don't know how much I've used.

I'm in for less-than 10 hours of work I'd say, not including research time which would only add a couple more hours total.

That's more than a kit for a rink of that size would have cost, but obviously I'm hoping that some of those costs are one-time. I'm hoping to use the wood again next year, although I will probably buy more to make a bigger rink. I would obviously have to get a new tarp, and the cost of the current tarp is sunk at this point (unless you want to buy a used 20 x 30 tarp). So, on-going costs after this initial rink are going to be much smaller next year, and then when I settle on dimensions and tarp to fit, the annual costs are going to be very small - even accounting for replacing boards, etc.

Would the kit have been re-usable? Probably. So I guess I can't say DIYing this was definitively better or even cheaper at this point.

No comments: