A professional Zamboni machine that creates glossy, perfectly manicured ice isn't cheap — it can cost up to six figures at auction.

So three Alberta dads built their own version and put it on ice at their neighbourhood rink in Grande Prairie's Whispering Ridge neighbourhood at a fraction of the cost. 

"It's built mostly out of PVC piping, and then there's a big tank that goes on the back of a side-by-side, and some valves and other materials from the local hardware store," said Jon Phillips, who built the rig with friends Cameron Schmidt and Scott Roessler.

The machine uses a spout to spray the ice with warm water. Instead of a fancy hydraulic brush, their homemade machine uses a large beach towel fastened to a mechanical arm that polishes the ice.

The neighbours, who maintain the outdoor ice surface along their street, decided that flooding the rink with a garden hose just wasn't cutting it anymore, and started tinkering in the garage.

"The idea came from something I saw online and we thought, 'We can do that, why not?'" Phillips said.  

"We just thought it would be a really cool idea, and we wanted to see if it would work. It was definitely spur of the moment."


The contraption, built in a single afternoon, took its maiden voyage on Sunday.

Phillips said it may not be the real McCoy but it gets the job done.

"It was really good ice after; we were surprised at how well it worked," said Phillips, who says the sleek new ice has been a big hit in the neighbourhood.

"Ever since it's been flooded for the last two or three weeks, there have been people on that rink basically non-stop. So it's very well-used. It's awesome."