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A Zamboni Makeover

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Ever wonder where old Zamboni ice resurfacers go to die?

First of all, let’s get one thing straight: these custom-made machines are built to last. They don’t die. They get makeovers. And that’s the plan for the pair of 6,700-pound machines at Joe Louis Arena.

As part of Miller Brewing Company’s sponsorship renewal, the Red Wings’ resurfacers are getting new paint jobs and being reskinned with new digitally-printed vinyl signage over the next few weeks.

Navigating one of these behemoths around the dasher boards isn’t easy, and painting one isn’t as simple as saying, Earl Scheib, either.

This is a job for experts, which is why K&T Kustom’s Kollision in Shelby Township was called in on this assignment, which started this week with the 1988 Model 500 that used to be bright blue, but now sports a fresh new coat of snow white automotive-grade paint.

“It was red at one time, and it was blue recently, and there was another color, so I would say for sure that this was at least the fourth paint job from new,” said Kelly Wojcik, K&T owner. “We sanded it and prepped it so we could lay a paint job down on it and it will hold up.”

With its new paint job, the older of the two resurfacers looks brand new, and it should considering that it took approximately 280 man-hours to restore.

“Over my career of doing this type of stuff, I got my experience in a lot of different vehicles,” said Wojcik, who has restored everything from a ’53 Hudson Hornet to a ’72 Corvette that took first-place in the 1995 Detroit Autorama. “But the Zamboni … that was my first one. But whether it a Zamboni or an old antique tractor, the preparation is almost on the same order.”

The ’88 Zamboni still bears the Miller Lite brand, but with new updated signage, said Rob Croll, the Red Wings’ director of corporate sponsorship.

“The one that you’ve known as Miller Genuine Draft will go to Molson,” Croll said, “because that is the official beer of hockey – the whole new Miller deal with the NHL – where they have realigned their brands with Miller Lite on the domestic side and Molson on the import side. That’s real important branding for them.”

The 1998 Model 500 – the one always driven by Al Sobotka – will undergo its transformation next month while the team is in southern California. It will be outfitted in Molson signage.

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