Holiday Gift Guide

Recently we put up a post in out Facebook community asking the members for their input on the best gifts to get for your backyard rink or your backyard rink maintainer. We had quite the collection of ideas. We compiled some of our favorites below.

Do you have other ideas? Make sure you send them over to us!

Some of the links below are Amazon links. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. This doesn’t change the price of the product for you, we just earn a few cents on each transaction from Amazon Services LLC.

Mad Bomber Hat

Nothing beats a nice warm hat! Many different variants of color.

Amazon: Mad Bomber Red Black Brown Plaid Wool Pilot Aviator Hat Faux Fur Trapper Hunting Cap, Large

Backyard Ice Rinks Gear

That’s right we have our own store with the BIR logo on various items. Support and promote the best group on Facebook!

Backyard Ice Rinks Store

2×4 Basics Bench Kit

This is a nice kit to help you quickly build benches. It allows you to build custom benches of any length depending on the lumber you buy. The lumber is not included.

Amazon: 2x4basics 90134ONLMI Custom AnySize Chair or Bench Ends, Sand (lumber not included, only supports)

NiceRink Resurfacer

There is nothing better than a fresh sheet of ice. The NiceRink Resurfacer makes ice like glass, in less time, less water and less hassle than just the hose. Thin controlled applications of water result in super smooth ice on any rink.

NiceRink 32″ NiceIce Resurfacer

Shovels

One of the key tools of the trade. For cleaning up around the rink. There are many different styles and preferences. Two of the most commonly recommended shovels are The Snowplow and the ManPlow.

Amazon: The Snowplow “the Original Snow Pusher” 36″ Wide Model 50536

Amazon: Manplow 42 Inch Revolution Snow Pusher with Grab Bar

Third Assist Gloves

Third Assist is the only maker of insulated hockey gloves on the market. Gloves are fully insulated throughout, except the front of the hand so the user can retain full control and feel of the stick- perfect for spending hours on the backyard rink or pond.

Third Assist Gloves

Hockey Sauce Kit

Nothing beats playing a game of sauce, especially on your backyard rink!

Use BACKYARDRINKS for 10% off!

hockeysaucekit.com

Skaboots

Skaboots aren’t “just skate guards.” They are the world’s first walkable skate guard. Much wider than typical skate guards, their boot-like soles provide amazing walking stability with excellent traction and mobility.

Skaboots.com

Sparx Sharpener

Skating on your backyard rink isn’t like skating on your regular indoor rink. You might need to sharpen more often. Lukily, the Sparx Sharpener delivers pro-level accuracy every single time and the all new, lightweight design allows you to sharpen anywhere, anytime – from your home to the rink.

Sparxhockey.com

Hot Hands Super Warmers

The long nights of rink maintenance can get cold very quickly! Nothing better than some added heat.

Amazon: HeatMax Hot Hands 2 Handwarmer (40 Pairs)

Weather Station

Knowing your local weather is super important to building a rink. This is a nice tool to add to your rink tool box.

Can you build a backyard rink on top of a septic system?

Can you build a backyard rink on top of a septic system? We have seen this question pop up a lot in our Facebook group.

We were able to get an answer from a licensed septic installer in CT. He is a member of our group. His answer was straight up, NO! He went into further detail as to the reasoning:

You should not have anything with substantial weight on top of your leaching field. You will compress the leaching system, pipe, and sand/stone around it and cause quicker failure. Water weighs approx 8lbs/gallon. There’s 7.5 gallons in a cubic foot. An average rink of 20’x40’ with average of 6” of water in it has 400 cubic feet of water, or 2,992 gallons of water which equates to about 24,000lbs of water sitting on top of your liner or over your leaching system. This will severely affect the performance of a leaching system.

Rink Lighting

One of the members of our community has a nice unique lighting setup that we wanted to share with everyone.

Materials Used

  • 1.5′ gutter downspout, ducked taped at the bottom
  • Sika fence post mix (Each package will stabilize 2 posts)
  • 2” x 5′ PVC interior post that goes in the drain pipe
  • 2 – 2′ pieces of rebar used to secure the 2×5 in the drain pipe
  • For the main post: 3” x10 ft PVC slipped over the 2″ PVC
  • 3” cap to go on top
  • Screw hook used to secure the cap and hold the string lights
  • Optional: Flag post holder place on back of main post
  • Lights: 100 w LED found on Amazon

Installation Process

The light setup and installation is pretty straight forward. You start the process by digging a hole about 1.5′ deep by 1′ wide. Take gutter downspout and cut a section to about 1.5′ long. Then duck tape then end of it so that the fence post mix used later mix doesn’t enter the pipe. Place the 1.5′ downspout pipe in the hole. You can also use rocks to help stabilize the downspout in the hole.

Next, take one of the 2” x 5′ PVC pipes and place it in the downspout pipe in the hole. Then place the two 2′ pieces of rebar on opposing sides of the 2″ x 5′ pipe in downspout pipe to secure it.

Now mix the Sika fence post mix and place in the hole around the downspout pipe, making sure to not get it inside of the pipe. The post mix will expand in the hole and should be completed in approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Allow approximately 2 hours for the post mix to set completely before installing the fence or attaching gates,etc. to the post. After the mix is set you can proceed to back-fill the hole with dirt.

After the post mix has set, you can slip the 3” x10 ft PVC pipe (main post) over the 2″ PVC pipe (interior post).

You install the LED light by drilling a hole in PVC cap and securing the LED light mount with a bolt screw, washer on the outside and inside then a nut on the inside.

For the electric, you can run the cord (plus 8ft extension cord) from the LED through a drilled hole at the top of the post run down the inside of the main post and out a hole in the bottom.

If you are going to hang string lights between the posts, you should note that the posts might want to lean forward. So to counteract that, you can use 1.5” x 4’ metal fence posts and drive that into the ground on the back of the post and connect with a few screws

Thanks to the Tschudy family for sharing their lighting setup. Make sure you go and follow their Instagram account dedicated to their rink.

Let The Frozen Backyard Rink Memories Begin

Well, it’s that time of year again, when a special breed of people finally get ready for what they have been waiting for since spring. It’s the start of the Outdoor rink season, and I know all the backyard rink enthusiasts are excited.  Just by going by the posts on social media, many folks have started their builds, and some people, like a few of us fortunate Canadians have already been skating and using the outdoor rink. Yes, it seems winter has come early this year for us up here, and it’s given us an early start to the outdoor skating season.  I have a seen a few that have been caught off guard and are still assembling their rink set up, battling with an early snowfall and the cold weather.  

For me, I get really excited seeing the pictures and hearing about all the rink builds going on.  There’s a sense of enthusiasm shared among us, and really, it can become contagious.  Some people might think we are strange and not all together at times.  I mean, who in their right mind considers spending countless hours in the cold, dark nights, playing with water in sub-freezing temperatures, “fun”? Well, I know I do, and many others as well.  And why do we do it? There are probably many reasons, but for me, I do it for my son and his friends and I know the impact it will have on his future.  To quote a tag line from a well-known outdoor rink supply company, “Where #FrozenMemories are made”

You see, I grew up in this northern Alberta town and still live here. This is a place where the winters are long, dark and cold.  In fact, by mid-November, there is usually snow on the ground, it’s already dark by 5pm and winters can easily last 6 months of the year.  So you learn to embrace the winters and make the best of it.  Back in the late 70’s or maybe it was even 1980, we didn’t have computer games and all the electronic entertainment we have now.  I think maybe we had PONG, but that got pretty boring after a while. You can only watch that square circle bounce between lines on a 19 inch black and white TV for so long.  We also had Lego’s, but you need a break from that as well. Outdoors is where we would spend most of our time.  Winter or summer, it didn’t matter, my friends and I would spend hours at a time. Ahh, the good ol’ days. Anyhow, my dad did something that year for us.  It was the only time he did something like this as well. He made us a Backyard Rink!  (Well, more like a frozen sheet of ice) I remember him out there in the cold, spraying and hosing down moms vegetable garden to make us a skating rink.  Mind you, it was only about 6’ x 8’ in size. But as a 7 year old kid, it seemed pretty big.  I can remember how excited we were and couldn’t wait until it was ready.  Many a day he spent spraying and layering the ice.  There was no fancy technology back then. No rink boards. No liner. No lights. Just pack the snow and mist the water and let nature do the rest.  The interesting thing is, I don’t know where my dad got the idea to do this project, and it was very unlike him.  We, my brother and I, did not play hockey or any organized sports. We didn’t even really know how to skate. (I was the kid hanging on the board and walking around the rink on the school gym class to the arena) Heck, I don’t even think we owned a pair of skates, only those double bladed “bob skates” you strap to your boots.

Dad wasn’t able to Google how to make a backyard rink or search the online forums for help.  And to this day, I have no idea what gave him the idea to even do an outdoor rink. He passed away a number of years ago, so I cannot even ask him.  And he never had the chance to know about my rink building experience and passion in the last few years. I can only assume that maybe he got the idea from a co-worker or read an article in the newspaper.  But for whatever the reason, that small patch of rough, bumpy ice that was supposed to be a skating rink, but ended up more of a winter slip n slide, some 35 years later had a lasting impact on me.  And in turn, it is making an impact on other.  When I mention rink building being contagious, I can’t keep track of the number of people asking how to build one, or if I can help, or being told I have inspired them.  When I talk about making lasting memories, it’s not just the skating; it’s the construction, the time spent with family and friends that will also be remembered.  I know my son will remember these moments for a lifetime, just as I have. And who knows what impact that will have on others.  I never imagined that I would construct an award winning backyardrink on the very same spot where my dad built that first little patch of rink so many years ago. (More about that in the next blog) But every year at this time, I am reminded of what he did for us, and that was the start of our #FrozenMemories that is now going on 3 generations.

If you are thinking about building a backyardrink, but not sure what to do, I encourage you to go for it.  There are a lot of helpful articles on this website and other resources to learn from.  Reach out on social media to the #ODR community, and start making Frozen Memories of your own. Leave your questions or comments below and continue the discussion.  Until next time…. Happy rink building, and Happy skating.

Kris Jackson
Proud dad and BackYardRink builder/enthusiast

Tools for the Rink

We wanted to make a few suggestions of some items you should keep around the rink for when it’s time to do some maintenance on the ice. These come from experience of myself and tips I have picked up from others along the way.

  1. Shovel – To remove the snow both from mother nature and from your skating lessons. I have been using a combination of your typical snow shovel and the ManPlow. The ManPlow has been a wonderful tool in my arsenal and I use it after every skate to clean up the ice.
  2. Ice Scraper or Floor Scraper – This is a great tool to have around to help take down the bumps in the ice.
  3. Snow Blower – I use a snow blower to get the bulk of the snow that Mother Nature throws at me off the rink. I made a make shift ramp to get it up onto the rink.
  4. Water Source and Hoses – Access to your water is key to less head aches when trying to resurface your rink. In addition, the hose that you choose needs to be long enough to reach all parts of the rink and needs to be made of pure rubber. You don’t want to have to be hauling water across your yard if you can help it.
  5. Ice Resurfacer – The ice resurfacer is the key to getting the ice nice and smooth.
  6. Propane Torch – It’s a cool tool to use in tandem with the ice scraper to help take down the bumps in the ice.

These are just a few items to have around to help maintain your rink. I don’t do daily maintenance, however the better maintained the surface the easier and more enjoyable your rink will be. Do you have a tip you want to share, contact us.

Rink Calculators

We have seen some questions arise with regard to what size liner you need and how much water will it take to fill the rink. Below are two calculators that will help you determine your minimum liner size, approximate water volume needed to fill your rink

All calculations are estimates only.

Questions, comments or suggestions? Let us know.

Rink Shade

One of the our followers on Instagram,  Kyle and his Dad, Kevin, have been building a their backyard rink for 16+ years and I have to say, it is pretty darn sweet. One of the features that  caught my attention was the addition of a shade to help with the sun on the north side of their rink. I was talking with Kevin about his setup and this is what he shared.

They started with a hole about 10″ diameter * 3′ deep on one side of the rink and put a receiver pipe in there and filled with concrete. After assembling the boards, we put in a 12′ pipe into the receiver pipe with four support cables from the top to points east, west, north, south. The west cable runs parallel to the ground and crosses the rink at the right place so the shade’s shadow falls on the ice at the north end where the sun does the most damage. The west cable attaches to the deck. The first attempt which had the bottom tied down self-destructed in a couple of hours. Now they leave the bottom flapping in the breeze.

They sourced their shade from MyTarp.com.

rink-shade-from-above

Backyard Zamboni

Zamboni, everyone knows what it is, everyone wants to drive one, and everyone is facinated by it. Who doesn’t stop what they are doing when they are at the rink and watch it go around in amazement as it resurfaces the ice. It’s almost calming. However, people tend to call all ice resurfacers Zambonis and to be technical, Zamboni is a company and they make a ice resurfacer just like a handful of other companies, but the Zamboni Company was the first market with an ice resurfacer and was the most popular resurfacer that it became the name everyone knew and turned it into an adjective to refer to all resurfacers. Enough with the history, onto the fun stuff.

Who wouldn’t want one for their rink in their backyard or on their pond/lake. That got me thinking and perusing the internet to find some of most dedicate people out there creating amazing ice resurfacers aka Zambonis for their rinks. I did find an Instructable showing you how to make you own, how cool! And of course there are those people who take their rink to the next level and get themselves a real Zamboni for their rink. I hope some of these inspire you to do great things with your rink.

 

And of course we can’t talk about Zambonis without mentioning our favorite all hockey band The Zambonis. Enjoy this classic tune.

Making Ice!

I seen have a common question asked among some of the backyard rink building groups: How long does it take to make ice? Well, this can be a loaded question, as it varies greatly by the weather and depth you are trying to freeze. You can really dig into the science behind how ice freezes, but for me I was trying to find the bottom line answer. There were two charts that I found that break it down pretty simply. The first showing ice growth over a day and the other over a week. Since for the most part people are trying to freeze a minimum of 4 inches you should be able to do that over a weeks time.

As you can see from the charts the temperature is relative to the growth of ice. There can be other factors as well such as depth, wind and snow or rain fall.

Once you have your base ice frozen, you may want to build more depth through base building/flooding/resurfacing/watering (there are many ways people refer to this process). The same science from above applies to building ice or resurfacing, but since you are only laying down a very thin layer of water it should freeze relatively quickly with the right conditions. The below chart should guide you when trying to determine the right temperature for resurfacing or base building. I found this chart in the literature from my NiceRink Resurfacer.

Degrees (F)Degrees (C)ResurfacingBase Building
350 to 3MarginalNot Advised
25 to 15-4 to -9FairMarginal
15 to 0-10 to -17GoodGood
0 to -10-18 to -23ExcellentVery Good
-15 / Lower-24 / lowerGoodExcellent

Now I will put a disclaimer on this, as I am no scientist but someone who is merely interpreting what I read. With science there are many variables, but I do hope this helps you get the general idea of how long it will take to get your rink up and running.

Build a PVC Skate Training Aide

Sure you can just give someone a plastic chair to hold on to while learning how to skate, but what’s the fun in that! Building a skate training aide is fairly simple and doesn’t take a lot to do it. I was reading through various sites gathering information on rink builds and the sorts, when I came across an article on the Popular Mechanics web site. They had a straight forward graphic to show the build. The nice aspect of this is it is fully customizable. Fit it out to the skater. If you use screws rather than cement you can always take it apart and fit it to someone else with some modifications. Their design was to use 2″ pipe, however, I wound up building mine using 1 1/2″ pipe.

Parts List:

  • 8 – 90-degree elbows
  • 2 – 90-degree Tee
  • Approximately 15 feet of pipe depending on your design
  • Sheet metal screws