UPDATE: The Zamboni® company’s website was reorganized, which meant I had to fix a variety of links. So, I thought I’d post this for people who missed it or went there and saw broken links.
Eureka, Utah is a very small town. I imagine it was even smaller when Frank Zamboni was born in 1901. From those humble beginnings, Frank grew up to create one of the most iconic service vehicles ever: The Zamboni® Ice Resurfacer. I’m not sure why they have entered the public’s imagination in the way they have, but if you say Zamboni®, people know what the vehicle does.
In fact, the Frank J. Zamboni company is legitimately concerned about the name Zamboni® passing from being a description of an Ice Surfacer into a noun, which can spell death for a Trademark. You’ll note on the website that Zamboni® is quickly followed by Ice Surfacer for that specific reason. In addition, there’s an extensive discussion of the Zamboni® trademark here.
By now, you are probably asking yourself what all this has to do with Flatties?
Well, until a couple days ago, I thought it had nothing to do with them. But then, I received an email from Bill with a link to an image about the Model B Zamboni®. After a little digging, I discovered a very direct connection between early ice resurfacing and flat fender jeeps. Below is a summary of the Zamboni® history from the company’s website coupled with pics I’ve found all over the web. The CJ-3B Page also has some information.
For about 7 years, from 1942 through 1949, Frank Zamboni attempted a variety of experiments to create a good ice resurfacer.
Model A was Frank’s prototype ice re-surfacer. In 1949, he built the model below (which has been restored and still exists at Paramount Iceland in California):
Model B introduced the jeep to ice surfacing. In 1950, apparently Frank decided he needed something more portable, so he came up with Model B, which used a War Surplus Jeep (I’m assuming MB?). If you look closely below, you can see Frank connected a U joint to the steering column and then added another steering rod so that you could steer from behind the jeep. According to the Frank J. Zamboni Corp:
In 1950, Olympic skating star Sonja Henie’s traveling ice show was practicing at Paramount Iceland, and she saw the Model A in action. She had to have one and asked Frank if he could build one in time for an upcoming Chicago performance. The deadline was tough, but Frank worked day and night, then loaded all of the resurfacer parts into a U-Haul® trailer. He towed the trailer to Chicago behind the Jeep he would install the parts on and assembled the Model B there.
Here’s one that’s in rough shape. It’s a good shot from behind.
The Model below is incorrectly labeled on the company’s website as a Model C, though it is correctly labeled in the name of the file as a Model B. Frank is sitting in the driver’s seat.
Model C introduced a high seat behind the jeep and utilized the CJ-3A:
Model D brought about the use of the CJ-3B. Of course, the CJ-3B Page covers this model pretty extensively. Here’s one image of the Model D from eh company’s website. Visit the CJ-3B Page or visit this company page to see more pics and information.
Model E used both the CJ-3B and the CJ-5. Here’s a CJ-3B Model E, according to the company, from the Company’s website:
The CJ-5 Model E shown below has been restored and can be viewed at the Paramount Iceland and sets next to the original Model A Zamboni®.
Model F eliminated the use of the body, but kept the Jeep running gear. Also, Model F was the last to use any drive train as Model G was designed with a different running platform altogether. You can see Model F below.
Here’s an interesting pic of a line of jeeps awaiting conversion into ice surfacers. The image tag suggests these are war surplus jeeps, but those frames look more like mid ’50s CJ-5 frames or later and might have been used in the Model Fs.
You can view pics of all the Models on the company’s ‘evolution of machines’ page.