The ice carousel is a cold-climate community cultural phenomenon with Finnish origins, possibly dating from the 19th century. Smaller-sized ice carousels were sporadically spotted in Finland during the 20th century, but it wasn’t until 6 January 2017, when Janne Käpylehto, of Helsinki, and the Executive Director of the World Ice Carousel Association, first began making a giant spinning ice disk on Kirmusjävi Lake in Lohja, Finland that these disks began to grow. Since then and over the past six years, he’s inspired many folks worldwide to try their hand at spinning an ice carousel with friends and family. Some ice disks have been small, intended for the grandkids, and some not so small, but they’ve all been immense fun for everybody. Janne has also inspired some friendly international competition and through it many new friends have been found.
|area sq ft||2477284.04|
|vol cu ft||4582975.5|
The northern communities in and near the Town of Madawaska, Maine have once again wrestled for and won the title of World Record Ice Carousel for the largest ice carousel in the world making one revolution. This year it was on Saturday April 1, 2023 at Long Lake in the Town of St. Agatha, Aroostook County, Maine. Collectively identifying themselves as the Northern Maine Ice Busters, they describe themselves as, “Multi-Community Volunteers teaming up to build rotating World Record Ice Carousels on Frozen Lakes throughout the world in the spirit of friendly, International Competition, Cooperation and Comradery.”. This year was the third year in five years that the NMIB secured the title of World Record Ice Carousel , .
As the disks have increased in size, so too has the need increased for precisely measuring the giant circles. Over the years, several Maine land surveyors have assisted the Northern Maine Ice Busters set the world records on Long Lake by doing RTK layout. Additional surveyors have been called to document and certify as to the exact as-built dimensions using old-school total station methods. This year included, surveyors Kevin Sargent, Kevin Holmes and Steve Hardy, all from Sackett & Brake Survey, Inc. of Dover-Foxcroft; Spencer Caron of Northern ME Enterprises from Fort Kent; and Mike Cyr of Northern Maine Surveyors from Madawaska. All of them helped in the planning and layout of the giant disk including the locations for the motors that propelled the world record disk to complete the requisite full revolution. Surveyors from Plisga & Day Land Surveyors, Jon Stewart (Bangor office) and Tim Cady (Houlton office) independently verified the dimensions of the disk.
One of the things that Plisga & Day measured was the thickness of the ice. Tim and Jon drilled and measured a dozen samples across the entire 56.87-acre area using a hand auger and a level rod with an adaptive foot. The rod was inserted through the hole in the ice and then pulled tight against the underside of the ice. The average ice thickness was determined to be 22.25” (1.85’). Tim also reported that due to the amount of white ice (frozen wet snow) on the lake, the ice samples they took and weighed figured out to be about 52.5 pounds per cubic foot. These measurements translated into an ice mass of about 120,303 tons, or 2.3 Titanics! Getting this thing to spin would require even greater sisu!
Saturday’s weather was inclement with on and off snow showers, 10 to 15 mph winds out of the southeast and below freezing temperatures, none of which seemed to dampen the Northern Maine Ice Busters’ resolve. The day began early with cutting the holes in the ice for the 9 outboard motors that were spaced at about 40° intervals within 20’ of the outside edge of the disk, plus the bigger hole was cut for the inline 6-cylinder 165 hp Ford motor along with its through-the-ice clever anchoring system. The repurposed potato harvester motor, by NMIB team leader, Roger Morneault, had connected to its fabricated shaft a 45-pound 24” brass prop that had been found at an exceptional price. All motors were started and set running at a steady idle, and eventually, the mammoth disk began to spin very slowly, for about 3’ before completely stopping. Many broke for lunch, and at about the same time, somebody posted on Facebook that the attempted big spin had been scrubbed for the day, and that it would resume Sunday when the weather was expected to be a little better. That Facebook post was taken down shortly after lunch when the fueled group returned to the ice, and once again started their engines.
The motors were each generally oriented pushing along a tangential vector and collectively in a clockwise direction. The disk was still not moving when Mike Cyr began sledding around the cut channel until he arrived at the northwest side of the carousel. With the sustained 10-15 mph winds out of the southeast and gusts up to about 20 mph, the 57-acre disc was driven northwesterly into contact with the stationary ice. Thanks to the quick thinking of Mike, he made a counter move. In his own words: “It was at 2:10 pm on the west/northwest side of the Carousel and the channel was closed shut due to the brisk wind from the southeast. The idea came to me to turn the motor basically 90 degrees to “push” the iceberg to the southeast towards the radius point. That, in combination with the outboard motors, potato digger propeller contraption, the Raptor and THE SHERP-LIKE FAT TRUCK thus simultaneously initiated rotation at 2:56 pm in the most ROBUST FASHION!!”.
Mike ran the motor that was mounted at the northwest for about 10 minutes, long enough to push the floating ice disk away from it contacting with the stationary ice before he returned it facing normal to the radial and back to a steady idle. The Raptor, referred to by Mike, is Roger Morneault’s hefty Ford, and the FAT Truckis Canada’s only locally developed and built amphibious vehicle.
More Yankee ingenuity—Roger’s Raptor, located on the carousel, was tethered and anchored to the stationary ice with the FAT Truck located in front of and tethered to Roger’s truck. The vehicles then began applying a constant forward force with their vehicles’ apparent direction counterclockwise on the ice disk. In the photo, I’ve referred to this as hamster wheel #1. About 10 minutes after the disk showed the very first signs of rotation (2:56 PM), hamster wheel #2, located about about 50° around and toward the north from the Raptor-FAT Truck duo, was another pair of trucks that were hitched together and anchored in similar fashion. The extra-vehicular pull continued for several minutes until the spinning inertia had been developed and maintained by the various outboard motors. The requisite single full revolution was completed at 5:12 PM, and at an average rate of 360° in 136 minutes, or 2.64706°/minute. Way to go Northern Maine Ice Busters! Congratulations on setting the new world ice carousel record!
V. Kelly Bellis, Maine PLS #2099, of Ellsworth, Maine, is enjoying retirement and unbridled rabbit hole diving into a variety of subjects often having to do with some aspect connected to surveying.
1 Email from Janne Käpylehto and the World Ice Carousel Association;
2 More on Janne Käpylehto’s first ice carousels in his own words at
3 https://www.facebook.com/NMIB21/ This is the best place to go and read and see more on this crowd sourced event.
5 2018 WRIC, 427 ft. diameter.; 2021 WRIC, 1234 ft. diameter; 2023 WRIC, 1776 ft. diameter.
6 Sackett & Brake’s FB page is another good place to see more from this event
7 Sisu is a Finnish word that we’re told is transcendental and untranslatable, but tenacity may begin to approach an understanding the term in English.
8 This thing is impressive! https://www.fattruck.com/