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Title:
SELF-DRIVEN ICE RESURFACING MACHINE AND METHOD FOR USE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/197089
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A self-driven and automated device to resurface an ice rink through scraping and watering. The device includes a rotating brush and a blade used to scrape the ice and move snow to a collection area. The device collection area and blade assembly movable in cooperation to form a collection cavity for the collection of scraped snow and movable to form a gap within the cavity for the removal of collected snow. The device is preferably provided with multiple companion units working in cooperation to resurface and ice surface.

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Inventors:
EIJI, Paul, Van (W579 Rocky Ridge Rd, Fountain City, WI, 54629, US)
EIJI, Dave, Van (115 Main Street, Eigin, MN, 55932, US)
AXLEY, Chad (5576 Hwy 42 Ne, Elgin, MN, 55932, US)
Application Number:
US2017/032116
Publication Date:
November 16, 2017
Filing Date:
May 11, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
EIJI, Paul, Van (W579 Rocky Ridge Rd, Fountain City, WI, 54629, US)
EIJI, Dave, Van (115 Main Street, Eigin, MN, 55932, US)
AXLEY, Chad (5576 Hwy 42 Ne, Elgin, MN, 55932, US)
International Classes:
E01H4/02; E01H4/00; E01H5/12
Foreign References:
US20140237862A12014-08-28
US20070277402A12007-12-06
US20070084087A12007-04-19
US3917350A1975-11-04
US2763939A1956-09-25
US20090000323A12009-01-01
US20110146111A12011-06-23
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GEISER, Greg, N. (Gutwein Law, 200 S. Meridlan StSuite 42, Indianapolis IN, 46225, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A self driven device for resurfacing the surface of an ice rink, the device comprising:

a plurality of wheels, at least one wheel of the plurality of wheels

operating as a drive wheel, the wheels capable of moving the device across an ice surface;

a blade, the blad e positioned on an underside of the device and capable of scraping the ice surface;

a rotating brush, the rotating brush in contact with the scraped materials and positioned above the blade, wherein the rotating brush sweeps snow and scraped ice into a cavity of a snow collection apparatus; a navigation control unit,

a watering unit, wherein the watering unit places water from a water tank onto the ice surface; and

a floor, the floor forming an underside of the snow collection apparatus cavity and movable from a storage position to a removal position, wherein stored snow and scraped ice is removed from the cavity as the floor is moved to the removal position.

2. A device as in claim 1, wherein a snow collection apparatus is positioned distal a leading edge of the blade.

3. A device as in claim 2, wherein the blade is movable in co-operation with the snow collection apparatus.

4. A device as in claim 1 , wherein the drive wheel includes studs, the studs movable from an engaged position to a disengaged position.

5. A device as in claim 5, wherein the studs are movable from the engaged position to the disengaged position in response to a traction force required to move the device.

6. A method of resurfacing an ice rink with a self driven resurfacing device as in claim 1, the method comprising:

programming the device to enter the ice rink at a given command;

giving the command for the device to enter the ice rink; and

the device entering the ice rink and completing several programmed laps to resurface the ice rink.

7. The method as in claim 7, wherein at least one device is programmed to enter the ice rink.

8. The method as in claim 7, wherein at least two devices are programmed to enter the ice rink.

9. The method as in claim 7, wherein at least three devices are programmed to enter the ice rink.

10. The method as in claim 7, wherein at least four devices are programmed to enter the ice rink.

11. A device adapted to resurface an ice rink, the device operating in an autonomous fashion and without a driver positioned upon the device, the device comprising:

a frame portion, the frame portion defining a perimeter of the device including a front, a rear, and a pair of opposed sides in communication with the front and the rear and providing support for the components of the device;

a pair of drive wheels, the drive wheels positioned at the rear of the device and at the opposed sides, the pair of drive wheels coupled to a motor, the motor providing rotational energy to the wheels and capable of moving the device;

a pair of free wheels, the free wheels positioned at a front of the device and at the opposed sides, the free wheels providing support for the operation and movement of the device, the free wheels positioned on a bracket and movable to adjust the height of the device relative to a surface increase the clearance of an underside of the device during transport;

a blade assembly, the blade assembly positioned at an underside of the device and behind the pair of free wheels, the blade assembly including a blade, the blade extending a width of the device and having a leading edge positioned at an angle for engagement with the ice surface to scrape the ice surface, the blade assembly movable from an engaged to a disengaged position;

a brush assembly, the brush assembly coupled to the free wheel bracket and movable from an engaged position to a disengaged position, the brush assembly including a brush, the brush extending the width of the blade and rotating, the brush positioned above the blade in the engaged position, the rotation of the brush moving scraped snow from the leading edge of the blade to a trailing edge of the blade:

a snow removal collection unit, the collection unit movable from a storage position to a dumping position, the storage position forming a cavity for the collection of shaved snow distal the trailing edge of the blade, the unit having a floor, the floor forming an underside of the snow collection cavity and movable to dump collected snow, wherein stored snow and scraped ice is removed from the cavity as the floor is moved to the dumping position;

a water tank, the water tank adapted to form a cavity for the storage of fresh water;

a watering unit, the watering unit in fluid communication with the water tank, the water unit depositing water onto the ice surface at a smooth and consistent rate to form a layer of water on top of the ice surface; and a navigation control unit.

12. A device as in claim 11, wherein the device includes a wash water assembly, the wash water assembly adapted to rinse and clean the ice surface, the wash water assembly coupled to the water tank and including a water delivery means and water collection means.

13. A device as in claim 12, wherein the water delivery means is a plurality of rollers, the rollers adapted to receive and distribute water to the ice surface.

14. A device as in claim 1 1 , wherein the drive wheel includes studs, the studs movable from an engaged position to a disengaged position.

15. A device as in claim 14, wherein the studs are movable from the engaged position to the disengaged position in response to a traction force required to move the device.

16. A device as in claim 1 , wherein the watering unit deposits water from the water tank in a proportion to the speed of the device, wherein less water is distributed at slower speeds.

17. A device as in claim 1 1 , wherein the watering unit includes a plurality of nozzles, the nozzles distributing water in the form of a mist.

18. A device as in claim 1 1 , wherein the blade cutting edge is removable and replaceable.

19. A device as in claim 18, wherein the cutting edge is formed from a plurality of individual blades.

Description:
TITLE: Self-Driven Ice Resurfacing Machine and Method for Use

Dave van Eijl, Elgin, Minnesota, Paul J. van Eijl, Fountain City, Wisconsin and Chad

Axley, Elgin, Minnesota

SPECIFICATION

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to United States Provisional Patent Application No. 62/335864 filed 13 May 2016 to the above named inventors, and is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT Not Applicable

SEQUENCE LISTING, A TABLE, OR A COMPUTER PROGRAM Not Applicable

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an automated self-driven device to resurface an ice rink.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A traditional ice-resurfacing machine is constructed on a vehicle chassis and operated by a user. The ice-resurfacing vehicle typically has a large storage area for collected ice shavings and includes an ice-resurfacing unit dragged behind the vehicle and around the ice sheet needing to be resurfaced. This resurfacing unit includes a blade, augers, and a watering unit. In use, the ice-resurfacing vehicle is driven onto the rink, the ice-resurfacing unit is lowered and the vehicle is driven along areas of ice needing to be resurfaced or reconditioned. In operation, as the vehicle is driven, the ice resurfacing unit blade shaves the ice surface with the augers collecting the shaved ice and depositing it within the storage area while the watering unit applies fresh water to the newly shaved ice surface,

A standard ice resurfacing vehicle is quite large, often the size of a large

automobile, making it cumbersome to maneuver and operate. A majority of the size of the ice-resurfacing vehicle is comprised of the storage area. This storage area typically occupies the front of the vehicle and functions a depositor}' for removed shaved ice from the entirety of the rink. After the completion of resurfacing, this shaved ice must be emptied from the storage area and then melted or deposited outside for complete disposal.

In addition to being difficult to operate, traditional ice resurfacers are slow. A typical ice resurfacing is completed in approximately 7-10 minutes. Using two resurfacers at a time can lessen the time to resurface the ice, but still takes approximately 4-6 minutes. As ice time is a valuable commodity in terms of both practice time and money, ice-resurfacing time needs to be minimized.

Due to these limitations, an ice-resurfacing unit is desired that can quickly resurface the ice that does not require an onboard operator. Preferably, this ice-resurfacing unit is automated and used in combination with several other companion units to quickly enter an ice surface and resurface the ice in a very short period to quickly and efficiently restore the ice surface. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A self-driven, automated, ice-resurfacing device for resurfacing an ice rink is disclosed. The device is comprised of several individual components contained within an exterior housing. The housing extends a width, a length, and a height of the device to enclose the components. These components operate in combination to provide an efficient and effective ice resurfacing by brushing the ice, scraping the ice, collecting and storing scraped and shaved ice, washing the ice surface, and placing fresh water back onto the newly scraped ice surface at a smooth consistent rate of flow.

To accomplish this process, these several systems are powered by a motor and a fuel source. The fuel source is preferably electric in the form of a battery or batteries. Although electric power is preferred, the fuel source could be any standard low emissions fuel such as propane, natural gas, hydrogen, or even provided by plugging into a standard electric household current.

This fuel source and motor will power all of the systems of the device. The major mechanical systems of the device will be a brush, drive wheels, water pump(s), vacuum system, wash watering unit, navigation controls, fresh watering unit, and a blade engagement and snow collecting apparatus. In addition to the mechanical systems, the device includes a blade, at least one water storage tank, and a snow/shaved ice collection area.

The device is movable across and onto the ice surface via the drive wheels. In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, a pair of wheels (front and back) on each end of the device function to move the device. Although a central motor is preferred, it is anticipated that the wheels could be powered by individual motors or a rotary motor located within a hub of the wheels. Preferably, the wheels are located near the device edges to provide for stability and balance as the device is operated on the ice surface. Preferably, the front wheels are hingedly affixed to the device and movable from a raised to a lowered position to allow for protection of the blade during use and movement. The front wheels and brush unit may be assembled on a companion bracket and movable in tandem, wherein movement of the front wheels to a lowered position engages the brush unit and moves it in proximity to the blade.

Generally the wheels of the device can be provided in a multitude of configurations wherein individual wheels, wheel pairs, and front and back wheels can function as a drive wheel, drive wheels, or free wheel. Accordingly, the device can generally be provided in a multitude of powertrains including front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, two wheel drive, and four wheel drive. Further, the wheels may be provided with tires comprised of a multitude of materials and material properties including rubber comprised of various durometers and including a continuous track member or tread extending between the front and rear pair of wheels.

A front of the device will include the brush. The brush is cylindrical and rotates in a direction corresponding to the direction of the front wheels along a width of the device. The brush includes a plurality of stiff bristles or paddles to contact the blade surface and sweep snow off of the blade area and to move it towards the snow/shaved ice storage portion of the device.

The blade is located near a leading edge of the device and positioned generally below the brash. The blade is mounted in an angular fashion to be in frictional communication with the ice surface to shave and scrape worn ice. The depth of the blade can be adjusted to cut deeper into the ice surface.

The blade is generally provided with in the form of a fixed tapered edge surface along a portion of the width of the device and designed for contact with the ice to form a shear point for shaving and scraping the ice surface. Although a fixed blade is preferred, other cutting edges and mechanisms could be utilized including but not limited to, rotating blades or cutters.

The angular positioning of the blade is substantially aligned with a ramp portion in communication with a snow collecting apparatus forming a snow collecting means. The angular position of the blade inclined directionally from a lower front portion of the device to an upper and rear portion of the device. The ramp portion allowing for movement of the scraped ice and snow, wherein the angular shape acts as a modified incline plane to move snow off of the ice, with the aid of the brush, into the snow/shaved ice collection area.

The snow/shaved ice collection area of the device is generally positioned near a rear of the device and including a rear wall. The rear wall movable to an extended position wherein the volume and capacity of the snow/shaved ice collection area of the device can be increased as needed.

The water tank of the device is supplied with water before use and designed to release and place stored water onto the surface of the ice for resurfacing. The water tank of the device may be provided in duplicate, utilize baffles, or include a segregated compartment to provide a water source for both wash water and fresh water. Water exiting the water tank for washing will be placed onto the surface distal the blade. preferably through a plurality of wash rollers and then removed from the surface and recycled/returned to the wash water tank for reuse.

Fresh water from the water tank is supplied to the watering unit for the application of fresh water to the ice surface. The watering unit evenly distributes fresh water onto the ice at the rear of the device. The flow of water placed onto the ice is controlled and may be further distributed with a trailing mat. The controlled flow of water placed onto the ice surface can be controlled in a direct proportion and correlation to the speed of the device and wherein a slower or faster speed with result in a reduction or increase in the amount of water placed onto the ice surface. Preferably, the watering unit contains a plurality of apertures extending the width of the device and utilizes a flow meter and gravity to control the flow of water from the watering unit and onto the ice surface. The watering unit apertures may be adapted for engagement with a corresponding nozzle and wherein the water may be applied under pressure and in the form of small droplets forming a mist directed at the ice surface.

The directional control and location of the device on and along the ice surface is controlled by the internal electronic components of the device in communication with the navigation controls. Preferably, the device will utilize a preprogramed path within the memory of the device, wherein the device follows this path. For the use of resurfacing with multiple devices, a singular device may be designated as the master device with the secondary device designated as slave devices and following the positioning and path of the master device. Accordingly, these devices are equipment with several types and styles of sensors and electronic components, including but not limited to, proximity sensors, location sensors, global positioning system (GPS) sensors, light sensors, infrared sensors, or other similar electronic components and sensors. Although the master and slave configuration is preferred, several other control mechanisms and systems may be used, such as but not limited to, indicators placed above or below the ice surface, remote controlled by a user, or laser guidance systems.

In use, the device will enter the ice surface using the wheels and aligning itself with the ice sheet. The device will then travel around the perimeter of the ice sheet in a pattern to resurface worn ice. As the device travels, the ice is scraped with the brush facilitating movement of this scraped ice into the snow/ice storage container.

Simultaneous to the brushing and scraping, the watering unit will be depositing fresh water onto the ice. As the device moves around the rink, snow will be continuously collected and water deposited onto the ice surface. The device may additionally incorporate laser guidance systems to ensure an evenly scraped surface.

In the preferred embodiment, multiple devices will be used in tandem to resurface the ice quickly. In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, four devices are used at a time to resurface the ice within a couple of minutes. Accordingly, the devices are sized to be installed into existing infrastructure, such as bays and garages, for quick entry onto and off of the ice surface. Preferably, the devices are stored on a docking station and quickly moved into position on the ice. This docking has additional functions to aid in charging of the device and aiding in the removal of collected snow.

Accordingly, the preferred materials used on the device are corrosion resistant and resilient with the preferred material stainless steel, although other similar materials may be used. The preferred size of the device is an operational width of six (6) feet and a depth of approximately three (3) feet. This allows for storage of multiple devices within existing infrastructure. Although, the use of multiple devices is preferred for quick resurfacing, one device does have the capacity and capability to resurface an entire hockey rink.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING (S)

The accompanying drawings are included to provide a further understanding of the present invention and are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification. The drawings illustrate exemplar}' embodiments of the present invention and together with the description serve to further explain the principles of the invention. Other aspects of the invention and the advantages of the invention will be better appreciated as they become better understood by reference to the Detailed Description when considered in conjunction with accompanying drawings, and wherein: FIG. 1 is a perspective side view of the right side of the device, according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an isometric bottom side view of the device, according to the present invention;

FIG. 3 is an isometric view of a top side of the device, according to the present invention; and

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a bottom side of the device, according to the present invention. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The following detailed description includes references to the accompanying drawings, which form a part of the detailed description. The drawings show, by way of illustration, specific embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. These embodiments, which are also referred to herein as "examples," are described in enough detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention. The embodiments may be combined, other embodiments may be utilized, or stmctural, and logical changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention. The following detailed description is, therefore, not to be taken in a limiting sense.

Before the present invention is described in such detail, however, it is to be understood that this invention is not limited to particular variations set forth and may, of course, vary. Various changes may be made to the invention described and equivalents may be substituted without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation, material, composition of matter, process, process act(s) or step(s), to the objective(s), spirit or scope of the present invention. Ail such modifications are intended to be within the scope of the disclosure made herein.

Unless otherwise indicated, the words and phrases presented in this document have their ordinary meanings to one of skill in the art. Such ordinary meanings can be obtained by reference to their use in the art and by reference to general and scientific dictionaries.

References in the specification to "one embodiment" indicate that the

embodiment described may include a particular feature, structure, or characteri tic, but every embodiment may not necessarily include the particular feature, structure, or characteristic. Moreover, such phrases are not necessarily referring to the same embodiment. Further, when a particular feature, structure, or characteristic is described in connection with an embodiment, it is submitted that it is within the knowledge of one skilled in the art to affect such feature, structure, or characteristic in connection with other embodiments whether or not explicitly described.

The following explanations of certain terms are meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive. These terms have their ordinary meanings given by usage in the art and in addition include the following explanations.

As used herein, the term "and/or" refers to any one of the items, any combination of the items, or all of the items with which this term is associated.

As used herein, the singular forms "a," "an," and "the" include plural reference unless the context clearly dictates otherwise.

As used herein, the terms "include," "for example," "such as," and the like are used illustratively and are not intended to limit the present invention.

As used herein, the terms "preferred" and "preferably" refer to embodiments of the invention that mav afford certain benefits, under certain circumstances. However, other embodiments may also be preferred, under the same or other circumstances.

Furthermore, the recitation of one or more preferred embodiments does not imply that other embodiments are not useful, and is not intended to exclude other embodiments from the scope of the invention.

As used herein, the term "coupled" means the joining of two members directly or indirectly to one another. Such joining may be stationary in nature or movable in nature and/or such joining may allow for the flow of fluids, electricity, electrical signals, or other types of signals or communication between two members. Such joining may be achieved with the two members or the two members and any additional intermediate members being integrally formed as a single unitary body with one another or with the two members or the two members and any additional intermediate members being attached to one another. Such joining may be permanent in nature or alternatively may be removable or releasable in nature.

It will be understood that, although the terms first, second, etc. may be used herein to describe various elements, these elements should not be limited by these terms. These terms are only used to distinguish one element from another. For example, a first element could be termed a second element, and, similarly, a second element could be termed a first element without departing from the teachings of the disclosure.

Referring now to FIG. 1-4 various views of a self-driven ice-resurfacing device, generally referred to as 10, are shown. In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, the device 10 is comprised of several individual components contained within an exterior housing. The housing extends a width, a length, and a height of the device 10 to enclose the components and generally forms a frame for the attachment and surrounding of the components. These components operate in combination to provide an efficient and effective ice resurfacing by scraping an ice surface the device 10 is operated upon, storing shaved/scraped ice, and placing water onto the ice surface at a smooth and consistent rate of flow for washing and resurfacing. To accomplish this process, generally individual system motors and a fuel source are utilized to operate and power these several systems. The fuel source is preferably electric in the form of a batter}' 200 or batteries 200. Although a battery 200 or batteries 200 are the preferred fuel source, the fuel source could be any standard low emission fuel such as propane, natural gas, hydrogen, or even provided by plugging into a standard electric household current. For an electric source, such as the batteries 200, the device 10 can be charged through connection with a charging terminal 201 positioned on the device 10 and adapted for coupling with a docking station, wherein charging occurs during storage of the device 10 on the docking station.

This fuel source and motors will power the systems of the device 10. The major mechanical systems of the device include, but are not limited to, a rotating brush 103, drive wheels 101, water pump(s), vacuum system, wash water delivery system 106, fresh water delivery system 108, navigation controls, collected snow removal unit 107, and blade assembly 105. In addition to the mechanical systems and operational systems, the device 10 includes a blade 150, at least one water storage tank 104, and a snow/shaved ice collection area.

The device 10 is movable across and onto the ice surface via the drive wheels 101 and free wheels 102. In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, a pair of free wheels 102 are located at a front, or leading edge of the device 10, and mounted on a movable bracket 120 along with the brush 103. This movable bracket 120 is in hinged coupling to the device 10 and movable to a raised and lowered position. The raised position lifts the blade assembly 105 and baish assembly 103 and general underside of the device 10 allowing for transport and the clearance of various objects for entry onto and off of an ice surface. The movement of the bracket 120 further engages or disengages the brush unit 103. The drive wheels 101 of the device are movable and powered by a motor 111. Although individual motors 111 are depicted as engaged with the drive wheels 101, is anticipated that the wheels could be powered by a singular motor, individual motors, or a rotary motor located within a hub of the wheels.

Preferably, the wheels are located near a rear of the device and a front of the device 10 to support the weight of the device 10 and equally spaced across the width of the device 10. The drive wheels 101 may include studded tires to provide traction to the device 10 as it navigates the ice surface.

When studded tires are utilized in the drive wheels 101, the studs are adapted for removable engagement through the tires of the drive wheels 101 from engagement with a cam 1 10 coupled within an interior of the drive wheel 101 assembly and movable through the tire portion of the drive wheel 101 from a disengaged position to an engaged position. Accordingly, the studs are provided on a shoe member 1 12 positioned partially around an interior circumference of a hub assembly of the drive wheel 101 assembly and movable through corresponding apertures in the tire portion of the wheel, wherein the studs protrude generally though the tire for removable engagement with the ice surface. The studs and shoes are generally controlled through an actuated motor coupled to the cam 1 10 and can be corresponding engaged and disengaged depending upon an amount of traction needed to move the device 10.

Generally the wheels (101, 102) of the device can be provided in a multitude of configurations wherein individual wheels, wheel pairs, and front and back wheels can function as a drive wheel 101, drive wheels 101, or free wheel 102. Accordingly, the device 10 can generally be provided in a multitude of powertrains including front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, two wheel drive, and four wheel drive. Further, the wheels may be provided with tires comprised of a multitude of materials and material properties including rubber comprised of various durometers and including a continuous track member or tread extending between the front pair of free wheels 102 and rear pair of drive wheels 101.

A front of the device 10 includes the brush 103. The brush 103 is cylindrical and rotates in a direction corresponding to the wheels 101, 102, wherein the brush 03 and wheels 101 , 102 move in the same direction along a width of the device 10. The brush 103 includes a plurality of stiff bristles 130 or rubber paddies to move snow and shaved ice towards the collected snow removal unit 107 positioned anterior to a trailing edge of the blade 150 and generally behind and below the blade assembly 105 towards a rear of the device 10, The collected snow removal unit 107 is generally hingedly pivoted and movable from a storage position forming a cavity with the device 10 to collected shaved and scraped snow to a removal position, wherein the collected snow and ice can easily be removed from an underside the device 10. Accordingly, the docketing station is configured in a raised and spatial configuration to allow for the emptying of collected snow/ice.

The brush 103 is provided to generally sweep the shaved snow to the snow removal unit 107 through movement. Although the brush 103 is preferred for its durability and simplicity it is understand that similar systems and mechamsms could be utilized to move snow, including, but not limited to, a vacuum pump, or a stream of compressed air directed to the collection area.

The blade assembly 105 is located near the leading edge or front underside of the device 10 and coupled to the brush assembly 103 and bracket 120 generally positioned for movable engagement of the blade 150 with the ice surface with a final engaged position generally below the brush 103 with the blade 150 including a leading cutting edge to scrape and shave the ice surface. The blade 150 and blade assembly 105 is movable in an angular fashion to a fixed position in frictionai communication with the ice surface to shave and scrape worn ice. The depth of the cut of the blade 150 can be adjusted to cut deeper into the ice surface. The blade 150 may be comprised of an individual blade extending generally a width of the device 10 or may be comprised of a plurality of separate blades 150 extending the width.

The blade assembly 105 is positioned on a movable assembly and operating cooperatively with the snow removal collection unit 107 and wash water system 106, wherein the blade assembly 105, wash water system 106, and snow removal collection unit 107 are moved from an engaged position for scraping, washing, and collection to a disengaged position for the dumping of collected snow. In the disengaged position, the blade assembly 105 blade 150 is generally moved into a position perpendicular to the ice surface in cooperation with a floor portion 170 of the snow collection unit 107. This movement forms an opening or gap between the floor portion 170 and the blade 150 to dump collected snow. In the engaged position, the blade 150 is positioned in frictionai communication with the ice surface and the floor portion 170 is positioned parallel to the ice surface and coupled to the blade assembly 105, wherein a storage area in the form of a cavity is formed for collecting shaved snow. The snow collection unit 107 additionally allows for expansion of the cavity through a movable rear wall 171, wherein the cavity volume may be expanded to allow for the collection of an increased of volume of shaved snow, in the event a smaller number of devices are used or if the depth of cut will result in a greater volume of collected snow.

In the engaged position, the blade assembly 105 is positioned above the wash water system 106 and adapted with an angular position substantially aligned to form a ramp portion in communication with the snow removal collection floor 170 to allow for the directional movement of shaved snow and ice into the cavity of the snow removal collection area 107. The angular position of the blade 150 and blade assembly 105 inclined directionaily from a lower front portion of the device 10 to an upper and rear portion of the device 10. The ramp portion formed by this angular positioning of the blade 150 allowing for movement of the scraped ice and snow, wherein the angular positioning acts as a modified incline plane to move snow off of the ice, with the aid of the brush 103, into the snow/shaved ice collection area 107.

Water to be placed onto the ice surface for washing and resurfacing is provided though the water tank 104 of the device 10. The water tank 104 is supplied with water before use and designed to release and place stored water onto the surface of the ice for resurfacing and cleaning. The water tank 104 of the device 10 may be provided in duplicate, utilize baffles, or include a segregated compartment to provide a water source for both wash water and fresh water.

Water exiting the water tank 104 for washing will be placed onto the ice surface directly after scraping and will be provided to the wash water delivery system 106 positioned distal the blade 150 and generally below the floor 170 of the snow collection assembly 107. The wash water delivery system 106 is generally designed to wash or rinse the ice surface of debris after scraping to further remove items in the form of shavings and dirt that may have collected in aits, gouges, or cuts on the ice surface. Preferably wash water is imparted to the ice surface through a roller assembly 160 having a plurality of rollers saturated with water and moved along the surface. The plurality of rollers 160 are generally provided of a nap or sponge like material adapted to conform to the surface and deflected into these gouges and arts. Water placed on the ice through the roller assembly 160 is then directed through a collecting means 161 to direct! onally move water to a designated area where it is then removed from the surface through a vacuum pump and returned to wash water tank portion of the water tank 104. The collecting means 161 is preferably a squeegee device adapted for placement against the ice surface and capable of directionally moving water to the collection area. Although, a roller assembly 160 is preferred wash water can be added to the wash water assembly through a variety of methods including, but not limited to, gravity, pumps, nozzles, or hoses.

Fresh water from the water tank 104 is supplied to the watering unit 108 for the application of fresh water to the ice surface. The watering unit 108 evenly distributes fresh water onto the ice at the rear of the device 10. The flow of water placed onto the ice is controlled and may be further distributed with a trailing mat. The controlled flow of water placed onto the ice surface can be controlled in a direct proportion and correlation to the speed of the device 10 and wherein a slower or faster speed with result in a reduction or increase in the amount of water placed onto the ice surface. Preferably, the watering unit 108 contains a plurality of apertures 180 extending the width of the device and utilizes a flow meter and gravity to control the flow of water from the watering unit 108 and onto the ice surface. The watering unit apertures 180 may be adapted for engagement with a corresponding nozzle and wherein the water may be applied under pressure and in the form of small droplets forming a mist directed at the ice surface.

The directional control and location of the device 10 on the ice surface is controlled by the internal electronic components of the device 10 in communication with the navigation controls. Preferably, the device 10 will utilize a preprogramed path within the memory of the device, wherein the device 10 follows this path. For the use of resurfacing with multiple devices, a singular device may be designated as a master device with the secondary device(s) designated as slave devices and following the positioning and path of the master device. Accordingly, these devices are equipped with several types and styles of sensors and electronic components, including but not limited to, proximity sensors, location sensors, global positioning system (GPS) sensors, light sensors, infrared sensors, or other similar electronic components and sensors. Although the master and slave configuration is preferred, several other control mechanisms and systems may be used, such as but not limited to, indicators placed above or below the ice surface, remote controlled by a user, or laser guidance systems.

To better understand the operation of the device 10, it's easiest to discuss the various components and there co-operation in the process of resurfacing a sheet of ice. During various activities on ice, such as skating, the ice begins to degrade and ice shavings, or snow as it is sometimes called, builds up on the surface of the ice. To provide a smooth ice surface this snow needs to be removed and new water applied to the ice surface.

In use, the device 10 will enter the ice surface using the wheels and aligning itself with the ice sheet. The device 10 or devices 0 will then travel around the perimeter and across the totality of the ice sheet in a pattern to resurface worn ice. As the device 10 travels, the blade 150 will scrape the ice and the brush 103 will move shaved snow to the snow collection unit 107. Simultaneous to the brushing and scraping the watering unit will be depositing wash water and fresh water onto the ice from the water tank 104 through the wash water assembly 106 and watering unit 108. As the device 10 moves around the rink, snow will be continuously scraped, collected, and water deposited.

In the preferred embodiment, multiple devices 10 will be used in tandem to resurface the ice quickly. In the preferred embodiment, four devices 10 are used at a time to resurface the ice within a couple of minutes. Accordingly, the devices are sized to be installed into existing infrastructure, such as bays and garages, for quick entry onto and off of the ice surface. Preferably, the devices 10 are stored on a docking station and quickly moved into position on the ice. In this configuration, four devices 10 will in tandem complete one lap around the rink to complete an entire resurfacing.

Accordingly, the preferred materials used on the device 10 are corrosion resistant and resilient with the preferred material stainless steel, although other similar materials may be used. The preferred size of the device 10 is an operational width of six (6) feet and a depth of approximately three (3) feet. This allows for storage of multiple devices 10 within existing infrastructure. Although, the use of multiple devices 10 is preferred for quick resurfacing, one device 10 does have the capacity and capability to resurface an entire hockey rink.

While the invention has been described with reference to an exemplary embodiment(s), it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted for elements thereof without departing from the scope of the invention. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings of the invention without departing from the essential scope thereof. Therefore, it is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular embodiment(s) but that the invention will include all embodiments failing with the scope of the appended claims.