Make a Zamboni for Your Backyard Rink

Last winter I had a few chances to play some pond hockey. However, the outdoor rink near me didn’t take care of the ice as well as I would have liked. There were bumps and cracks all over, the ice wasn’t all that smooth, and at one point we had to shovel off a foot of snow just so we could play. Last year we tried making a rink rake. It was a big success. Well, not really. We didn’t have access to a hose, so we had to rely on a couple of 5 gallon buckets of warm water and a ghetto rigging to distribute the water to the rink rake.

This winter I want to be prepared so I tried looking for different ways to cut the ice. After searching the internet for a while, I didn’t have much success finding out how to make a homemade Zamboni. Mostly all I could find was how to build a rink rake.

So I built this:

I was fortunate enough to have most of the materials provided for me. I work in a metal plating shop, so I was able to obtain a 55 gallon PVC barrel for water and a pallet to hold the barrel. Basically all I needed to do was purchase some wheels and some PVC attachments for the rink rake we already had.

Here are the materials I purchased to finish the job:


  • 2″ (threaded) pvc male adapter
  • 2″ x 3/4″ pressure bushing
  • 3/4″ pvc ball valve
  • 3/4″ 45degree angle pvc elbow
  • 80z low VOC pvc cement (you will need less than 2oz of this)… I will refer to this as “glue” later in the post
  • (2) 5″ swivel caster tire
  • (2) 4″ fixed caster tire
  • (16) 2-3″ zinc plated screws (make sure to purchase ones with a big head or you can purchase washers)
  • (2) 6′ x 2″ nylon ratchet tie down

I also had a bunch of extra 3/4″ pvc pipe that I cut off the rink rake that was previously made.

Step 1

Take the 2″ pvc male adapter, glue the inside of the non-threaded side with pvc cement. Place the 2″ side of the 2″x 3/4″ pressure bushing inside of the 2″ pvc male adapter (the side that you just put the pvc cement in).

Once that is finished, glue the inside (3/4″ inch side) of the 2″x 3/4″ pressure bushing. Place about a 3″ piece of 3/4″ pvc pipe inside the 3/4″ inch side of the 2″x3/4″ pressure bushing.

Next, take the 3/4″ pvc ball valve and, very carefully, put a thin layer of glue on the inside of either side of the valve…

The reason why I say carefully is you DO NOT want the ball of the ball valve to get any glue on it, otherwise it will lock up and you may have to start all over again.

… slowly push the glued side of the 3/4″ ball valve on to the rest of the fixture you made previously in this step.

Last, carefully glue a thin layer on the inside of the other side of the 3/4″ ball valve. Take about a 2″ piece of 3/4″ pvc pipe and slowly push it into the 3/4″ ball valve.

Step 2

*This step is up to you*. I decided to glue¬† a 3/4″ 45 degree angle pvc elbow TO THE REST OF THE FIXTURE made above. I did this so that I could detach the rink rake in case I wanted to use the rake with out the whole Zamboni. If you want, you can just glue the 45degree elbow to the rink rake. I would glue the angled elbow on the fixture (to hold a little better than just shoving it on) rather than glue the elbow on the rink rake. Of course, the choice is yours.

Step 3

Flip the pallet upside down. The pallet I had was about 4′ tall (the barrel was about 3′ tall) and2′ wide. It had 4, 2x4s on top for support. This worked out perfectly because the barrel rested perfectly in between the 2 middle 2x4s.

First, take the 5″ swivel caster tires and place them about an inch away from the base of the board on the bottom of the pallet (see picture for reference). Screw the wheels on with either a wide head 2″ – 3″ screw or use a washer for a screw with a small head. Do this to all 4 holes on each wheel.

Then, place the 4″ fixed caster tires perpendicular to the board on the bottom of the pallet that you are screwing them to. Place the tires about 3-4″ inches away from the outside edge of the pallet. Keep in mind, you’ll want this to look somewhat similar to the wheels on a shopping cart. Screw these down the same way mentioned above.

The reason why you want one set of wheels an inch bigger is to create just enough water pressure to the rink rake. I will repeat this later, but it is important that the larger wheels swivel and the smaller wheels are fixed because you will be pulling the Zamboni. If you think about it it is the opposite set up of a shopping cart because you are pulling the “shopping cart” rather than pushing it.

This is what the finished product looks like:

A couple of side notes to mention:

You can build this on a lot smaller scale, this is meant to coat around a 100’x100′ surface. With that said, make sure the materials you get (eg. the pallet and tires) can support the weight of water in your container. For example, the pallet I used holds two full (55 gallon) barrels of liquid, the 5″ and 4″wheels support up to 330lbs each.¬† With that said, a gallon of water weighs approximately 8.33-8.34lbs.





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  1. Mike said on January 20, 2012


  2. Kevin U said on December 12, 2013

    What did all this cost you?? I want to make one too!

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