May 27, 2018
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On frozen pond, Mainer builds ice carousel

Mark Holyoke | BDN
Mark Holyoke | BDN
Mark Holyoke of Dedham used a chainsaw and an electric trolling motor to build an ice carousel on Moulton Pond in Dedham over the weekend. The carousel is 64 feet in diameter and the resulting circle of ice weighs about 21,000 pounds, he said.
By John Holyoke, BDN Staff
Updated:

Take a handy Mainer with the right tools and an idea plucked from YouTube, and you never know what you’re going to get.

Just ask Mark Holyoke of Dedham, who spent a few hours on Sunday constructing an “ice carousel” on the surface of Moulton Pond.

(Full disclosure, Holyoke is my cousin, and he is from the decidedly more handy branch of the family tree.)

“I saw [the idea] on YouTube a year or two ago,” Holyoke said. “It’s big in Sweden, Finland, places like that. Basically, you make a circle on the ice, very accurate so it won’t bind, and [provide] a means of propulsion.”

The circle isn’t scribed beforehand. Instead, Holyoke doubled up the length of a 16-foot 2×4, then drilled a hole through one end, forming a hub that held a concrete pin that anchored the spoke to the ice. On the other end of the apparatus, he built a bracket to hold his chainsaw, which was supported by a tire as it traced the circular path.

“Basically, we spun an arc with the chainsaw on the outside,” he said. “This was our first time ever doing it, so the second attempt will be a lot easier. But we only killed one chainsaw [while making the carousel]. Only one. That’s pretty hard, running them in water like that.”

Holyoke said after making a couple of passes with the saws and then following up by making the cut wider in a few places where the ice was binding, the carousel was ready to spin.

And spin it did.

At one point his brother, Don Holyoke, hitched a snowmobile to the carousel to make it move a bit faster, but it spun perfectly well under the trolling motor’s power.

The specs on the carousel were impressive.

“The circle is 64 feet in diameter and we figured it was probably 21,000 pounds of ice,” he said. “We calculated with a stopwatch, and it was moving about 1 mph on the outside edge.”

The ice was 8 inches thick, and the carousel itself was remarkably stable, he said.

“We drove a snowmobile on it and off it, and it hardly deflected at all,” he said.

On the docket for coming weeks: More fun with the ice carousel, he said.

“Our plans are, we’re going to put some tiki torches on it and have a campfire in the middle for a skating party,” Holyoke said.

The carousel got some attention halfway across the country, as it has already been featured on KMBC TV in Kansas City, where Holyoke’s son, Cody Holyoke, is a news anchor.

And though none of those at the pond drilled a fishing hole in the carousel and trolled a lure around in a circle, Holyoke said that would likely happen in the future.

“It was too late, but it is in the master plan. Bigger circle next time, in deeper water, now that we’ve accomplished the ‘proof of concept,’” he said. “It’s better than sitting at home watching TV, right?”

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