It was bound to happen. Selling ice to Eskimos. The Ice Machine Corporation of America here has sold a machine for making ice to each of the Eskimo villages of Toksook Bay and Tununak, on Alaska's Nelson Island.
This is a special kind of ice, made in a special kind of machine. The ice is made from salt water and is generally made and used aboard fishing vessels to keep fish fresh for longer periods than usual. Because fish frozen with saltwater ice stay fresh longer, fishing boats can spend extra days on the fishing grounds and bring in a bigger catch.
The icemaker, designed by Jack Schranz, a 43-year-old refrigeration expert, has found instant acceptance among commercial fishermen, not only on Alaska's Nelson Island, but also in the Pribilof Islands of Alaska's Bering Sea, in Taiwan, and from Maine to California.
About a month ago, an inquiry about the ice machines arrived from the 155 -year-old Hong Kong mercantile firm of Jardine-Matheson, founded in 1828 as Magniac & Co., which may become a Far East distributor.
The ''secret'' of the ice machine Mr. Schranz developed is simple: Ice is made on both sides of several vertical plates, something other refrigeration engineers say is not possible. Impossible or not, one of these machines, depending on its size, will turn out ice at the rate of 1 ton, 2.5 tons, or 5 tons every 24 hours.
Nor is this icemaking capability limited to salt water. The machines can also make freshwater ice in the same volumes.
Both Schranz and his sales director, Roy A. Smith, believe the fast acceptance of the machine rests not alone on its icemaking, but equally on its reliability of operation. The vertical plates are of corrosion-resistant stainless steel; belt-driven compressors eliminate the possibility of burnouts that would exist if semihermetic or hermetic compressors had been used; and the only control required for the icemaking process is a pressure switch.
Discussing his invention, Schranz noted that it came out of four years of trial and error at an estimated development cost of $500,000. It was more than two years before the initial working model was completed.
Schranz pointed out that the machine also offers a reliable source of freshwater ice for the use of poultry and produce processors. He indicated that he looked to Europe as a substantial future market.