Ice Installation More Than Just Freezing Water

Nugget Column #06 – Tuesday October 25th, 2016

We had the chance to sit down with the North Bay Granite Club’s Head Ice Technician, Bruno Bin, on Monday afternoon, just after completing his final flood of the ice installation from hell.

Now those aren’t Bruno’s words, he’s the type that rises to challenges instead of name calling them; but knowing the obstacles that surprised him and his team at almost every turn, we know that it wasn’t his all-time favourite installation in over 20 years of practicing his trade.

From what he could recall on the spot, this was Bruno’s twelfth ice installation at the North Bay Granite Club, while earlier years were spent freezing water in his hometown of Horne Payne, Ontario.

Making curling ice is a complicated job (more than just freezing water of course), and one that raises a lot of questions that are often directed to the guy sitting in the office without a clue. So the following are some answers to a few of the more popular questions we have received so far this season:

Q: Our season was delayed due the need to install a new “Chiller” (over $40,000 expenditure) in the ice plant. Why was that necessary?

A: The chiller is an integral part of the arena’s refrigeration system that includes many other pieces as well. While there is no way to test a chiller’s performance, the lifespan is well known and we were at the end of ours.

If you let it go, one day the chiller will just stop working and the club will be left without ice. Not an ideal situation for a club hosting three provincial competitions this season while also catering to a dedicated membership base.

The plan was to describe to the readers here what role the chiller takes on in the refrigeration process, but it would have looked something like this: “the brine and the ammonia refrigerates, absorbs heat…calcium chloride, ya…” so better off saying “google it”!

Q: We are about to install four new heating units in the arena; can you tell us what role they play?

A: While heaters do help maintain an ideal temperature for optimal performance of the ice surface, they aren’t absolutely necessary for that purpose. What the heaters do is keep the air temperature comfortable for the curlers while they are enjoying the sport.


And a few more personal questions:

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve and your number one tip for curlers early in the season?

A: DIRT.

Dirt is most commonly a result of old grippers, un-kept brush heads, and clothing. Bruno’s tip is to clean your dedicated curling clothes this week before bringing them to the club and then keep them in your locker. This will prevent your “curling clothes” from brushing the side of your vehicle, collecting pet hair, and the like.

Q: What is your secret ingredient? What do you differently than other ice technicians to supply quality ice conditions?

A: Remove the hacks and clean that area daily. Many clubs never remove their hacks and attempt to clean around them, or do so only during major ice maintenance efforts. It takes more time and effort but Bruno believes it is well worth it.

 

Bobby Ray
General Manager
North Bay Granite Club