Polish Your Ball Inc.
The Angle and The Edge
There’s an angle I’ll bet (easy for me to say, I live in Las Vegas) that has never been given
much thought. I’m not talking about target lines such as “down and in or deep inside” or even entry
angles. The topic and angle of this discussion is about changing a bowling ball’s reaction by using
bowling ball cleaners and ball sprays during sanctioned league/tournament play to get the edge
on your opponent.
You say it can’t be done. Check out the descriptions on bottles of cleaners from the various
manufacturers the next time you are in the Pro Shop. The key words to look for are
“Approved for use during USBC sanctioned competition”. **
There are cleaners manufactured specifically for reactive resin (pearl, solid, hybrid and particle)
coverstocks. Others can be used on any type of bowling ball including plastic. Most ball cleaners
do just that; clean the bowling ball by removing the lane oil and grime. But there are some
that do more than just clean.
One manufacturer uses arrows on the label to indicate the ball reaction you can expect after
using their product, ranging from no change to increased backend and hook. Descriptions include
“revives tack for increase gripping power” and “enhancing formula to increase backend motion”.
Another manufacturer has a spray that increases length 4’ to 5’ for dry lanes and a spray that gives
instant grip for oily lanes. So what we’re really talking about here is fine tuning or tweaking our
equipment during competition and it’s legal.
Here’s a scenario: you’re going out of town to bowl in a tournament or traveling league and
have never been to this particular bowling center before. You have no idea of what the lane
conditions will be like or what oil patterns you will be facing. Instead of carrying extra bowling balls,
sometimes two of the same type but with different drillings, carry a couple bottles of multi-purpose
cleaners and sprays. Now a three ball arsenal becomes a six or nine ball arsenal.
And besides, 6 ounces is a lot lighter, is less expensive and takes up less trunk space if you
happen to be carpooling.
** Check league or tournament rules first, there may be special rules for that event.
Outside the Box-Finish
Conventional resurfacing techniques suggest that in order to resurface a bowling ball to an
out-of-box finish of 4000 grit Abralon, you first put down a rough finish and then smooth it out a little,
or a lot. One recognized method states to first sand the ball’s surface with 500 grit applying firm
pressure, then finish with 4000 grit using medium pressure. Another recommends going from
500 grit to 1000, 2000 and finally 4000 grit.
Which is right when neither is wrong? Both methods work if you want a 4000 grit finish.
But they may not give you the reaction you are looking for. This is where you need to think
“outside the box-finish.” Look beyond what is the usual and the norm.
Having tried both methods on my Black Widow Bite (solid coverstock, pin under the ring finger
with an out-of-box finish of 4000 grit Abralon), I still did not get the reaction I wanted. First,
with the 500/4000 finish, the ball read the mid-lane too much and made no move in the backend.
The 500 thru 4000 grit finish gave the ball length and movement in the backend but it had no punch
resulting in weak tens (after six in a row I put the ball in the bag.)
It was time to apply my “OBF”, my own-ball-finish.
After a few more trial surfaces, success was achieved. What was the formula?
800 grit SiaAir abrasive followed with Valentino’s U.F.O polish which has a slip agent.
The ball had a matte finish like the OOB with good mid-lane read, continuation and power
in the backend. The result, three ringing tens and a 257 game.
Another example of OBF is my Playmaker. This ball had an OOB of 4000 grit Abralon with PH.
Factory Finish Polish. Did not like this finish from the start. What I ending up with was
500/1000/2000/4000 with two coats of polish, first coat being PH. Extender and the second coat PH.
Delayed Reaction. The Extender polish, with micro-grit, pushed the finish up to maybe
4500/5000 and the Delayed Reaction with a slip agent added length.
What you may recognize is that both of these balls are no longer in production.
By resurfacing and using my OBF, I have added new life to old balls and saved money in the process.
All it took was a little time and some experimentation.
Think “Outside-the Box.”
To Each His Own
We have all heard or read the phrase “out-of-box” finish or OOB. And most often the question asked is
“How do I maintain it?” When I get a new ball I ask what will be the OBF or my “Own-Ball-Finish”.
I keep records of every step taken to achieve this surface/finish so it can be repeated again and again.
The last ball that I still use with the out-of-box finish is my White Dot, my spare ball. After three years of
use it now has a “trunk shine finish”.
I had read that to simulate the factory finish on a ball I should first use a 500 grit Abralon pad
applied with firm pressure and then to use the finish grit pad(s) lightly. The article stated this would replicate
the Ra and Rs valves, a measurement of the width and depth of the groves, associated with the out-of-box finish.
Armed with this information I resurfaced my old Black Widow Bite with 4000 grit Abralon being the
second and final grit. The results were an early read and strong mid-lane but left me with a flat back-end and
weak 10's. The ball was gassed and had no finish.
So I returned to the shop and resurfaced it with my OBF, first with 500 grit then 1000 grit, 2000 grit
and finally 4000 grit. This gave me the ball motion I was looking for. Just enough traction in the oil for the
ball to keep its course and still had energy in reserve for the back-end. No more weak 10’s.
Another example is one of my 12 yr. old son’s new 13 lb. bowling balls. The factory finish is
800, 1000, 2000, 2000. After only a few games on a long and heavy THS oil pattern the ball was starting
to show age, even with regular cleaning after every session. The surface needed to be refreshed.
Recommendations were to go over the surface lightly with 2000 grit. Did this work? Not really.
The ball went fairly long with one break point right after exiting the oil and he too got to experience the
scourge of the weak 10’s.
Back to the shop and let’s use OBF. This was 500 grit, 1000 girt and finish with 3000 grit.
No more weak hits, now it’s the occasional stone 7. Now if he could only pick up his spares.
No two bowlers are the same. The ball surface texture or combination of textures that work for me
might not be the best surface finish for you. Some need it polished, some not.
The point is it’s your bowling ball, finish it the way you need it. Experiment and watch your scores go up.
Time to go put my OBF on a new Victory Road Solid.
Tracks & Track Flare
Back in the days of rubber, plastic and early versions of urethane bowling balls, a ball would develop a track.
The track was located on the part of the ball that made contact with the lane and could be seen as small scratches.
These scratches developed over a hundred or more games.
The scratches would have a defined pattern an inch or so in width, be perpendicular to the line of travel
and go around the circumference of the ball. As skill levels increased so did track definition. With a consistent
release came a consistent track. This track caused inconsistent ball reaction and the ball would need to be
resurfaced or as was the usual practice, replaced and retired.
Today we have track flare. Track flare can be seen as oily rings on the ball surface after the previous shot.
This is where the ball tracks now. These oil lines can span over six inches of the ball’s surface and now the track
covers an area six times greater!
The two major differences in today’s game that are responsible for changing track to track flare are;
the lane surfaces we bowl on and the bowling balls we use. Synthetic lanes are used in new bowling center
construction and remodeling. They are super smooth with no seams between boards, vary in hardness and
the finish doesn’t get worn off easily.
Synthetic lanes and industry innovations brought changes to bowling balls, particularly to the material
used to make the coverstock and the ball’s hardness. In the 1980’s, a plastic ball’s surface could test in the
90 point range using a durometer, an instrument for measuring the hardness of a bowling ball’s surface.
Now the average is between 70 and 80 points.
Along with the softer coverstocks came different surface textures as a result of ball manufacturing processes;
textures that can include: a porous surface, ridges, valleys and foreign material (particles, resins).
Now after 30 to 60 games (manufacturers recommended resurfacing intervals) we have to contend with the
flattening and dulling of the texture.
We have gone from carrying one bowling ball to having four or more balls in our arsenal to choose from.
Now more than ever bowling ball maintenance (cleaning and resurfacing) has become a priority second only to drilling.
See you at the lanes,