I drive the zam and maintain the ice and do general building maintenance before, during, and after hockey games. I work year round, even out of season for maintenance.

Here is some proof of me with the zam, hope it’s enough for you guys! Not sure how else to prove it: https://imgur.com/a/UoiWwno

Comments: 364 • Responses: 82  • Date: 

n3m37h279 karma

Have you ever taken your Zamboni through a tim hortons drive through?

jakehas259 karma

The day I do that, my life will be complete.

CitricBloodBath111 karma

What are the wheels on a zamboni like? How do they grip the ice without damaging it?

jakehas181 karma

Great question, the wheels actually have very very small spikes facing out that grip the ice. But don’t be confused, we still drift it once in a while. Ice is slippery.

fullautophx75 karma

As a goalie, I hate when you guys drift through the crease.

spokris22 karma

Really? Why? First thing every goalie does is rough up the crease the beginning of each period. Does drifting with spiked wheels do something different?

kovach0144 karma

We rough up the crease for consistency, when they drift through they almost ALWAYS leave ice or a ton of water behind. Which makes us rough up the crease.

shinra52823 karma

I used to be a zam driver. This is because that area is constantly driven back over the entire ice cut. Most drivers will err on the side of caution and turn the water off a little too late rather than a little too early as they make their turns over that area. Also a lot of zams will just leak water even if it’s off.

jakehas31 karma

Precisely that, since we drive basically several loops, some spots are going to be covered more than others. The ends and crease areas are always getting a lot more water which is why we stress to drivers to control and pay attention to how much you are putting down. I personally almost turn the water completely off when I hit the crease after my first pass and then make sure to put a tiny bit back on when I know I’m hitting it for the last time.

fullautophx6 karma

The thing I hate is when the driver really spins the wheels in the crease area. It leaves all these sideways scratches that catch the skate blades.

jakehas22 karma

That can be prevented with a slower speed in the ends of the rinks. When it leaves longer scratches, that means the speed was too fast.

DaytonTheSmark110 karma

When I was like 6 or 7 years old I was so obsessed with the zambonies at my brother's hockey games.

Honestly thought it was my dream job at the time haha.

Does the job pay well at all?

jakehas155 karma

It’s an amazing job, not something I would do long term as a career, but I find it really cool and unique to say that you use to drive a zamboni! The pay can be tough, most ice rinks are expensive to run and don’t generate enough income to afford it all. That’s why a lot of rinks end up going under which, in turn, will make the pay not so great either and the workload heavier.

I got fairly lucky because the university I work for is decently wealthy. The hockey team’s success is keeping us alive!

shinra52814 karma

Not OP but I used to drive zam for an NHL team. It does not pay well.

Smittygunz13 karma

Drove for an AHL team. Pay was not good. Didn’t really do it for the money as it was a secondary gig.

jakehas14 karma

For a lot of drivers, it usually is a side thing for sure. Don’t think you could really live off of it unless you’re higher up in the ranks.

MellerTime8 karma

There are ranks of zamboni drivers? How many do you need?

jakehas6 karma

I mean ranks in terms of actual job positions. We have out ice maintenance assistants (which is what I would fall under) then the ice tech head, then the operations manager.

QuackenBawss104 karma

How did you feel about the scene in Deadpool when he kills a guy with a Zamboni?

Plausible? Too dark?

jakehas127 karma

While that scene may be dark as hell, you definitely do not want to find yourself under one of those things... You wont be able to tell the tale.

spanky208891 karma

Do you want to develop the worlds fastest performance Zamboni with me we can call it a Lambozamboni or Lambozoni?

jakehas30 karma

This quite honestly sounds like a dream come true. Lambozoni has a nice ring to it

SmugglerHanSolo44 karma

When the manager man came out of his office and said “Son can I help you?” Did you say “yes you can?”

jakehas35 karma

That is exactly what happened

SmugglerHanSolo21 karma

Serious question. Ever listen to that song while driving?

jakehas30 karma

There’s not a single time I get on to the zam without that song playing in my head. And yes, that song has been audibly playing while I have driven before.

malcontented43 karma

Is it as satisfying as it looks like it is? Because watching leads to a zamboni zen state

jakehas57 karma

Honestly, it’s so peaceful. Yeah, there is a lot of work you have to do controlling the water amounts and blade level and pattern, but you’re just out there in the middle of basically a stadium alone just... driving. Just doing your thing with nobody disturbing you.

toadiusmaximus38 karma

How warm can it get before the ice is negatively affected/effected?

jakehas54 karma

We keep our sheets at about 20-23 degrees Fahrenheit, 23 being on the high end. We have alarms that go off when they get into the high 20s (which would only happen if our refrigeration failed).

purpleglitteralpaca35 karma

Why do you drive the outside of the rink first and then go in? Seems it would make more sense to get smooth ice by doing the opposite.

jakehas62 karma

We start by doing two laps around the edges and then shoot down the middle and basically do circles in such a pattern that makes it so we dont have to do many tight turns. The zam is basically a giant lawnmower, it can turn sharply, but not that sharp. The pattern itself doesn’t actually effect the ice condition or the smoothness of it. What determines that is the amount of ice we are actually cutting down and how much water we are laying.

razzmcdeluxe29 karma

Do you get to ice skate for free?

jakehas47 karma

I have, in the past when granted enough down time, thrown on my skates and tooled around for a bit yes.

toadiusmaximus28 karma

Can I come to your job and ride on the Zamboni while you clean the ice? Can you share some of the jargon Zamboni drivers use?

jakehas49 karma

If you’re ever nearby and I’m working, Id love to. As for jargon, we call the room with the zambonis...wait for it... the zam room. We call our staff “back of the house staff” versus the people that that interact directly with the public are “front of the house”. We actually also identify each of our zambonis by their actual model number (546, 552, 540)

toadiusmaximus17 karma

What do call the ice? How do refer to cleaning it? (Time to shave the sheet... Scrape & pour, etc... ? )

jakehas36 karma

We call them cuts. Example, “I have to cut the ice in 15 minutes”. As for the ice, we call both sheets by their names. We have the Olympic sheet or Oly for short, and the Lefty Smith rink.

toadiusmaximus17 karma

How deep is the cut? And is the water you lay down a specific temperature?

jakehas58 karma

We have the ability to adjust the blade depending on the ice condition, but generally it will cut roughly .03 inches. For the water, we have what we call a “wash water tank” and a “hot water tank”. The wash water (which is just any temp of water, no chemicals) gets put down first and a squeegee pushes it into any skate groves. The hot water (at it’s hottest, 150 degrees) is laid very last by a towel that smooths it out. Hot water is generally what causes such a smooth surface because it virtually melts the ice it is put on and bonds together better.

toadiusmaximus20 karma

Jake, this has been cool as hell... thanks... and check out Letterkenney... Be well, and shave the sheet..

jakehas26 karma

I appreciate it my man, I will check out Letterkenney, just for you

super_swede9 karma

Is it true that the first cut is the deepest?

jakehas8 karma

In theory the depth of each cut will usually be pretty consistent throughout the drive. Give or take some adjustments when needed.

super_swede2 karma

Do you have a stereo on "the zam" and if so what do you listen to during work? I'm guessing not P.P. Arnold... ;)

jakehas5 karma

I wish! I try not to listen to music so I can keep concentrated on the drive

Crakasura3 karma

Interesting we call them floods.

jakehas4 karma

I’ve heard it that way as well, I feel that those are the two main terms for it. We generally call it flooding if we intend to lay our more than the normal amount of water. Usually if we’re trying to build up the ice.

akavana4 karma

I cover that area for work, and try to swing by the campus when I'm in town. Was at the arena last year during an orientation for new students it seemed. Love how the facility is typically open for visitors to explore. The Joyce center is that was as well. Great school top to bottom. All the campus staff that I've interacted with have been very kind. Thanks for continuing that trend.

jakehas5 karma

I walked into the building for the first time as a patron and fell in love with it. Because of that, I will always try to give others that same feeling. It really is a stunning campus

silentcreature24 karma

So how did you come into a field like this? Is there special training?

jakehas35 karma

Well I actually started as a skate guard at the rink doing just general public relation stuff. I eventually became much more interested in the maintenance aspect and applied (it is a seperate job). As for training, nothing special. As long as you have a license and know how to drive a car, they will start to train you on all of the functions and controls.

silentcreature9 karma

That’s cool! Thanks for your reply, have a great day!

jakehas5 karma

Of course!! That’s what I’m here for :)

schmidty175 karma

I'm a operator in Ontario and we actually have a course here through Ontario Recreation Facilities Association or ORFA , they have a course for ice resurfacer operation , ice maintenance and ice painting complete all courses to be a Certified Ice Technician.

jakehas2 karma

That’s very cool actually! Id love to do something like that

leotushex19 karma

What's under the ice?

jakehas35 karma

Under the sheet of ice is an EXTREMELY flat slab of brown or gray concrete. There are coils inside of the concrete that we use to change the temperature with.

Aederrex16 karma


jakehas20 karma

Oh dang, that’s crazy. Correct me if I’m wrong, I imagine for that situation you guys probably basically firehose it to lay the sheet of ice. Ours is flat so we legitimately walk up and down the sheet with a big ole wand that sprays water. We do a couple hundred coats with the spray then bring the zam out to lay the final heavy coats.

ButtsexEurope15 karma

How do you feel about cutting curling ice? I heard it’s very labor intensive.

jakehas25 karma

For curling ice the cut isn’t too different. What we do is shave it without laying any water. The annoying process is actually prepping the ice. So laying out the curling stones and pebbling the ice and smoothing it out with a bunch of different curling-specific tools. The cut isn’t bad, but setting it all up SUCKS.

jamawn14 karma

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen in the rink?

jakehas45 karma

I don’t know how strange this would seem to you, but every week for about a 6 month period we had this same guy come in for public skate wearing a giraffe onesie

NEp8ntballer4 karma

Well Geoffrey is out of work now so he'll probably be around a lot more.

jakehas2 karma

I am excited for his presence

Timthetankengine11 karma

Why not say what college in the title only to make it pretty obvious with the picture?

jakehas12 karma

...uh...¯_( ツ)_/¯

sloaninator3 karma

Typical Notre Dame, lol. ( Miami Hurricane ) ;)

jakehas6 karma


Lone_Beagle3 karma

glad to see hockey is back up on its feet, they made it a club sport while I was there, a lot of people were not happy.

jakehas3 karma

It is alive and thriving!

thew4nder11 karma

I have seen seen a driver push some lever(rod?) down repeatedly on turns,. What does that do?

jakehas24 karma

So there are two augers. One horizontal that picks up the snow, and one verticle that shoots it into the giant tank in the front. Over the course of the drive the verticle auger can get clogged up with snow and water (slush), by smashing that rod up and down it clears out a lot of slush chunks from the verticle auger so that it doesn’t get completely clogged up.

Brownborough11 karma

Do you count the number of passes you do? As a kid I could never wait for the Zamboni driver to do that final sliver of unfinished ice that they all inevitably left. I always felt like the good drivers would aim to eliminate that extra pass.

jakehas13 karma

To be completely honest, I dont really think I’ve ever counted the passes exactly. But every driver has missed a spot or two in their career, and it’s a pain to have to go back and get it.

statesofred11 karma

What's your opinion on figure skaters ?

jakehas18 karma

They can do some pretty sweet stuff that would get me an ER trip real fast if I tried to do it.

Drunk_Henri8 karma

Do they also wreck the ice if they do anything intense?

jakehas18 karma

Every week we have figure skaters come in their time slot and each time I find a really deep hole from where they keep spinning on their toepick. It basically is drilling the ice.

lemskroob3 karma

as a hockey player, i hate having a game right after figure skaters. second worse is following public session.

jakehas3 karma

Figure skaters generally dont usually do anything major, just when they do, it’s really deep cuts. Public skates however, destroy the ice. We try to get two cuts in if we can.

slammoslammo10 karma

How do I learn to be a zamboni driver?

jakehas14 karma

The best advice I can give is contact your local rink and ask if they have any positions available! It’s intimidating at first, but once you have the controls down it’s just practice. I believe there are a few youtube videos around as well explaining some of the details!

onzie910 karma

Does it bother you that Zamboni is not a valid word in Scrabble? Fedex, Kleenex and other brand names are, but Zamboni hasn't made the cut yet.

jakehas12 karma

I’m honestly more offended at that than anything else that has ever happened to me

Baronheisenberg8 karma

I drove an ice resurfacer once. Do you prefer the double loop pattern, or a figure 8 pattern?

jakehas11 karma

Definitely the double loop, though the figure 8 has always just looked interesting and cool to me

Baronheisenberg3 karma

I operated a small model resurfacer, which spun out and Tokyo-drifted a lot. Do any cool tricks with the full size models? Also, ever had issues with the ice chiller? Ours broke down so much. One day I got called in at 5 am because the entire ice stage melted, and we had to shop-vac the entire thing and then remake the ice x.x

jakehas4 karma

The models I drive are big and hefty enough any cool looking tricks might cause definite damage to the ice with the tire spikes unfortunately, but we do still slide when wet enough. Ice is ice after all. Not sure about the chiller, not many issues that I’ve seen. We did have an issue with our dehumidifier system a couple of months ago and ended up getting condensation dripping on to the ice from the vents in the ceiling. It was a huge pain because overnight the drips would freeze enough to make little piles of ice.

ChaplnGrillSgt8 karma

How do I teach the guys at my local rink to stop leaving pools on the ice?!

What do you wish you could tell hockey players about the ice?

jakehas8 karma

Water amount is crucial. You don’t just want to turn on the valve and drive, you have to pay attention to how much you’re laying down the entire time or else it will just get soaked.

I wish more hockey players would understand more of how much work is actually put into laying and maintaining a sheet of ice. There’s a lot of behind the scenes work making sure it stays up to standards

ToddUnctious7 karma

What's your secret for keeping the ice tender, strong and true?

jakehas19 karma

My deep deep love and bond with all things in a frozen state.

sharksfan066 karma

What is the fastest you have ever done a cut? I used to drive the zam at my local rink and my best time was 4:23

jakehas6 karma

That is insanely fast, hats off to you. Ive probably done one in a good 7-9 minutes before.

RenttheJoe5 karma

Do you get to be involved in the outdoor NHL game this season?

jakehas9 karma

I have not heard anything, I assume not. I’m pretty sure the NHL has their own full on staff for that kind of stuff. They probably wouldn’t even need us.

Clyde_Frog_FTW5 karma

Just curious, were you not allowed to say Note Dame, and what do you think the B1G conference looks like this year? ND taking it again?

Zamboni related question, what temperature is the water used to "clean" the sheet?

jakehas4 karma

I just don’t want to strictly specify, would like to answer primarily technical questions about the job / equipment.

For the tournament, I have my hopes. We did, however lose some good seniors this past season.

The water that goes into our main tank is generally going to be in the 130-150 degree range (Fahrenheit). We do have a seperate wash water tank that can be filled with any temperature of water, though it’s generally just cold water.

Clyde_Frog_FTW4 karma

Awesome, thanks for answering, I've been wondering for probably a good 20 years since I was little first watching zam laps before practice. Never thought to go bug the Zamboni guys and ask him, so thank you for the perfect outlet!

jakehas2 karma

Of course! Thanks for the question

toadiusmaximus5 karma

Did you get the nick on your nose from a Tilley? Please tell me you're a Letterkenney fan...

jakehas2 karma

Sorry to disappoint... but I am not :(

Hubble-Gum5 karma

How do you repair holes in ice that occur in the middle of a hockey match, with what tools do you repair them?

jakehas17 karma

The way we do it is we grab a bucket of slush we have pre-made just in case that happens and a puck. We fill the hole in with slush and pack it down as tight as we can and spray the top of it with hotter water. We put slush in the hole versus just plain snow because slush has that mass amount of water mixed in that will help it freeze through all the way.

Gonzoguard4 karma

As a former Ice Technician, its nice to see another brother of winter. So propane or electric Zambonie?

jakehas5 karma

We have one electric model 552, and two gas ones. Models 546 and 540

GEAUXUL3 karma

Have you ever hit the wall before?

Also, have you ever taken a date to the rink late at night and played endless love like in Happy Gilmore? https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qloG4It-wv8

jakehas4 karma

Yes, yes I have hit the wall before.

And that’s probably the most romantic thing I have never done.

john_dune3 karma

What music do you listen to when you drive the zamboni?

jakehas3 karma

I try not to listen to music (unless it’s playing on the rink speakers of course) when I drive. Just so I can maintain that focus on creating a nice sheets of ice.

callsignhotdog3 karma

Are you ever tempted to just shout "Where is Francis!?" when nobody else is about?

jakehas5 karma


Stratsass3 karma

Wow, I am very amazed and intrigued by all of these questions and answers. I'm just browsing reddit at 6 in the morning, haven't gone to sleep yet reading about Zambonis.

What you do seems very peaceful. Now, what I was going to ask is what I read in a previous answer.

You said there are tiny spikes on the wheels to get a grip on the ice. Do you leave behind tiny holes? Does it affect the ice? Or does the Zamboni go over the little holes it makes from the spikes?

jakehas2 karma

You must be one tired fella.

And yes, they are extremely small little pegs, Im not sure even if you could call them spikes. Perhaps I should have used different phrasing. It grips the ice which not digging in too far. It does leave a mark, but the water you lay on top of it will most of the time just cover it up.


bob51zhang3 karma

How do you find a job like this?

jakehas4 karma

I started by doing more public related things such as skate guarding for the rink. I eventually became more interested in the behind the scenes aspect of it all and applied to do that.

Nokxtokx2 karma

Are you Hamboning while Zamboning?

jakehas2 karma

Everyone loves a good show, right?

asksweirdstuff2 karma

Do you like cats?

jakehas2 karma

Love em, except the furless ones, just odd lookin

OgdruJahad2 karma

Have you ever tried to kill someone with a Zamboni?

jakehas7 karma

No, those big ole things are much too slow.

LimpBagel2 karma

Did you drive the zam before Compton was built? I went to a few games when it was in the basketball arena and it seemed pretty shitty for such a well off school. Compton is really nice, though.

jakehas2 karma

Oh it’s a huge difference if you were to compare the two buildings. Unfortunately no, I started driving less than a year ago.

Ohflippingcrikeyshit2 karma

Is your name Boris?

jakehas2 karma

Nay, ‘tis not

Adam_Ohh2 karma

Is Anders Bjork a good dude?

jakehas3 karma

What I’ve learned (in my own experience) is that a lot of college hockey players are really nice guys

nighthawke752 karma

I noticed there are models that are road-certified. Have you seen one in transit on the highway?

jakehas3 karma

I have never seen that and, honestly, sounds like a dream car right there

zacshipley2 karma

Do you ever worry that when people call to abolish ice you'll be out of a job?

jakehas4 karma

That’s something all zamboni drivers have to keep in the back of their mind at all times lol

majorclashole2 karma

What is the difference in water amounts between flooding and resurfacing during a game? What indoor temps do you try maintain? Humidity levels? What type and size of refrigeration system do you use?

jakehas3 karma

Well when we say flooding we’re usually layin a mass amount of water intentionally. This could be to either build the ice or repair a really chopped up sheet. During a game, we try to use minimal amounts of water. Enough that the sheet still has a nice smoothness to it, but isn’t going to take a long time to freeze. When it comes to temps and refrigeration, I actually don’t personally control a lot of that. I know temperature-wise, the air temp in the arena is usally in the mid 50s and the relative humidity is generally about 50-60%.

EllieGeiszler2 karma

I've heard the exhaust (?) put out by a zamboni can trigger asthma attacks in ice skaters. Have you ever noticed a difference in air quality or in your breathing while on the job?

jakehas4 karma

I personally have not noticed this, but can confirm that the exhaust does give off some stuff you dont want to breathe. However, as long as the rink is well ventilated, it should be no issue.

I imagine most of cases with skater’s asthma being triggered is probably due to most local rinks being very enclosed and not well ventilated. We have carbon monoxide detectors on both of our rinks that will alert us when the air quality is bad enough.

EllieGeiszler2 karma

Oh, cool! I have exercise-induced asthma but had zero problem skating outdoors last winter. I think the humidity from the ice really helped, and I would like to start getting into ice skating regularly. I think I'll try to avoid tiny indoor rinks as a rule of thumb, though there is always a chance they're well ventilated. Luckily, Boston is a fantastic place to learn to skate, even at 27! Thanks for the reply. :)

jakehas3 karma

Absolutely!! And it never hurts to go into your local rink and ask the operations staff if they know how well the ventilation works. Health is always the #1 priority.

sharkweek2472 karma

Only 2? I grew up near one that had 8. Then again, I'm Canadian.

jakehas3 karma

That sounds painful

adward22 karma

How often do you change your blade?

jakehas2 karma

I believe it is a couple times a month. I want to say roughly every two weeks.

RoseyOneOne2 karma

Sweet gig, buddy. I know that over in my local rink a lotta the girls go around lookin to get a rid on the 'ol Zamboni. Tell us, how them puck bunnies? Any wild stories?

jakehas3 karma

Ive yet to pick anyone up for a classy dinner date on the zam yet... waiting for that special one ya know?

Razzmataz111 karma

Were you inspired by these adds? I wanna drive

jakehas1 karma

Brought a tear to my eye.. legit though cute commercial

Ayagi1 karma

Have you ever had sex on top of one?

jakehas6 karma

Great question! No

4point5billion451 karma

I heard that the ice isn't naturally the color it is and that they add paint to it? (not all the ice, just under the main layer)

jakehas1 karma

Correct! While ice can be known to have a lighter color, it is actually fairly transparent. We have a grey layer of concrete below the ice that would be visible if we just put down water. We mix white paint with water and do a few coats by hand like that before laying just normal water.

The blue lines, center redline, and the faceoff circles (at my rink at least) is also paint. Any images or really detailed things are usually fabric banner-type things we just put water on top of.

MCPatar1 karma

There is a scene in the movie Deadpool, where Deadpool is driving towards a guy crawling on the ice cleaning the blood trail behind the him. He then threatens to kill the guy using the zamboni. Is this legit?

jakehas1 karma

Well, while I dont know what kind of situation you would be in to be in front of a moving zamboni, you do NOT want to find yourself under one. You probably will not tell the tale.

dirtnastin-6 karma

Why not use an Olympia ice resurfacing machine?

jakehas1 karma

Well that would be up to my bosses to determine what machine they want to get. I just go with it! I hear olympias are a bit wider though, which coukd be interesting in covering more surface area.

blablabla1984-7 karma

You maintain the ICE ? You should be ashamed maintaining them so they can round up all them immigrurants

jakehas2 karma


blablabla19840 karma

I was joking.

I'm not that stupid.

jakehas1 karma