On Tuesday we got a nice covering of fat, white snow here in Portland. It came down pretty good for a couple hours in the middle of the day. It even stayed solid on the streets, which usually doesn’t happen here. But, by the end of the daylight it had pretty much been replaced by rain, and it melted away. I looked outside at about 5:00 and it all seemed like a pleasant dream. Over the weekend I went to a kids birthday party (with my kids, not to abduct toddlers…) that was at an ice rink. It was the firsttime I’d had on ice skates since grade school. I go to thinking about those old ice board kits that were for sale in the back of Thrasher.
I’ve never seen a scan of those old iceboard kits online anywhere. The closest I could find is Hung Chang’s Wackyboard collection that has the shot below. However, I think this is a later 90′s era device and not the conversion kit that used to be sold in the 80′s. Maybe “was for sale” better describes the kit, since no evidence of anyone actually buying them exists. This company was called Zeema. If you look at the blades, they seem to be made of several pieces, a carriage and a blade. The original ones (if I recall correctly) were more like regular flat ice skate blades cut or stamped from a sheet of metal that just bolted on. Again, if anyone has a copy of those ads, please share it.
I did find a patent that shows what looks like the kit I remember. This one invented by West Chicago residents William K. Newell and Elizabeth Tomson (United States Patent 4114913) dates to 1977, so it would fit the time frame.
But that wasn’t even the first one. Back in 1966, United States Patent 3329439 was published that was essentially the 60′s era skateboard technology for ice. Instead of adapting the roller skate trucks, inventor Willard Gebien replaced the whole apparatus. Gebien was from Libertyville Illinois.
Then around 1982, inventor Thomas L Mayes from Chesapeake, Virginia came up with a plan that looked like he used disassembled hockey skates and attached them to the trucks. On one hand, it’s not very inspired or pretty to look at, but on the other hand, it’s roots are really close to the original concept of taking apart an old pair of roller skates to make the first skateboards. United States Patent 4521029 is just another iteration.
Then in the 90′, the iceboard patent race really, (ahem) heated up. The Shumays, (Adam and Sami) and the Abu-Shumays (Ibrahim) from Pennsylvania teamed up to invent this doozie of an idea, United States Patent 4896893. They threw everything they had at the problem. I’d love to see one of these contraptions. They actually applied for the patent in 1989. I’ll be they were bummed when the bottom of the iceboarding market fell out. Kids just didn’t have access to frozen ice vert ramps, so they moved to the… pbfffft!
Then in 1992, John Decesare from Glen Ridge, New Jersey basically did the same thing as Newell and Tomson did in 1977, except he added an apparatus to the trucks that allowed the angel of the blades to be adjusted, resulting in something that looks disturbingly like the Stroker trucks. Witness United States Patent 5161810.
In case you’ve forgotten the precursor to indys, heres a shot of the Stroker trucks.
But if street skaters can’t get along with bowl trolls, you can bet there will be discrimination against Railz riders from the guys keeping it real on the ice…
One of the first things that will turn up if you do a search for ice boards is something called Howtoons. See the little skateboard on the spalsh page?
They have a collection of comic book style pages aimed at kids that focus on how to make things. One of the items is an ice board. This is a different approach than the old style. Notice the stabilizer that actually connects the tips of the blades on each truck. It seems like a pretty usable and solid approach actually, but where is a kid going to find raw steel to make these? You can download a pdf of the file, not from Howtoons, but from Instructables.com.
I had just about given up on the search when I found one of Chris Thomson’s senior design projects. These things look perfect.
Unfortunately, there really isn’t any more information, other than a low-res action shot and a grainy prototype photo, and Chris hasn’t logged onto the portfolio site since June of 2007. I had one of those “Ah-ha” moments when I saw Chris’ last name, thinking he might be related to the Elizabeth Tomson, one of the inventors of the 1977 version, and the one that most closely resembles Chris’ designs. I figured the names were close enough for one to be a typo possibly, but Chris hails from New Zealand, so it seems less and less likely.
So that wraps up the history of the iceboard. I’ve always wanted to try one back in the day. Again. please share the old advert if you have a copy, or feel free to fill me in on anything I’ve missed.
Right, I forgot about this 2001 application for the Ski-Snowbaord.United States Patent Application 2002005069 looks light as a feather!