Making Great Ice: Scraping problems

It’s early in the season, but let’s talk about some common scraping problems that arise throughout the year. Do you have two paths to get to centre?  For example, you can take ice out in the 12-foot circle and the rock curls to the button, or you take ice in the middle of the 8-foot circle or even closer to centre and the rock just gets to centre.  What you have is a classic W. This condition develops over time because you’ve created high sides.  As your 12-foot edges get higher your blade will start to dig on the inside more, developing a run in the 8-foot or edge of the 4-foot.  When this happens, you have to pull down your outsides till the blade doesn’t dig anymore and your ice returns to a level playing surface.  If you have done this and the run is still there in the 8-foot, you can add water to the low spot as you scrape to try and bring it up to level.  If neither of these solutions works, you may have to burn or flood the ice to get it back to where you need it.

CCA Head Ice Technician Jamie Bourassa and scraper at work on arena ice (Photo J. Bourassa)

Another common problem is high centres.  This could happen (1) if you didn’t pull the centre down enough when you made new ice, (2) from how the ice is pebbled or (3) from the type of scraping patterns you are using.  To rectify this problem, aggressively scrape the centre when you are doing your patterns.  Don’t be afraid to add two or three passes up and down the centre until the blade is cutting evenly all the way across.  If you do have a high centre and you know your blade is true, you will see more snow in the centre of the blade when you make your first pass. Speaking of true blades, it is always important to check your blade before every use to make sure it is cutting true.  Take your machine to the middle of the ice and put the blade down about three feet from the outside edge of the sheet, then scrape towards the edge.  Make sure you crank back the angle so you are only cutting a little.  Check to see if the blade is cutting evenly all the way across.  If your corners are digging in, use your blade harness to pull them up a little until they stop digging.  Don’t over-pull or you will be cutting more aggressively in the middle of the blade and this will lead to problems in your ice after a few scrapes.  If you have a couple of spots not cutting on the blade, take a small hone and touch up those spots on the blade till they cut evenly with the rest.  Just touch them up a little at a time.  Then change to a new spot on the ice and check your blade again. Good Luck and remember – it’s just frozen water.