Everything in life is in a constant state of evolution. This is not startling news to anyone,
just something we don’t usually think about. Nothing is excluded. Just take a look at bowling.
In the modern age of bowling, we have gone from solid rubber bowling balls to balls with
reactive resin coverstocks. Now instead of weight blocks shaped like pancakes, we have cores
that are designed by engineers.
Coverstock maintenance has become an important aspect in today’s sport of bowling.
How the cover reacts to the surface of the lane governs how much power the ball will have
when it gets to the pins.
If the surface of the ball is dirty, the reaction down lane will be affected, resulting in poor
performance and lower scores. Back in the day, you just wiped the oil off the ball (if you wanted to).
Today there are specialized cleaners and polishes to use. Micro-fiber towels.
Most bowling balls are made of a type of plastic called urethane. Da. Though hard enough to
withstand the pounding they receive when in use and hurt if dropped on your foot, they’re still plastic.
New, out-of-box surfaces on bowling balls have texture, hills and valleys called the scratch
pattern. Over time this surface will change as the ridges become wore down. This is where
resurfacing a bowling ball can give it new life.
This is where our perspective about the game needs to evolve. With coverstock maintenance
and manipulation, bowlers can improve their game. Gone are the days when you could just bowl
and put your ball away wet and dirty. You wouldn’t do that to a horse.
Today we have, at our disposal, many methods and products that can be used to maintain
a bowling ball. Cleaners, polishes, SmarT Star’s and ball spinners. All are designed to help you
maintain your equipment and maximize your game.
We just have to start thinking this way and that’s the hard part. I guess it’s a matter of
whether we have fun averaging 150 or do we want get better and average 200.
Just like bowling balls have evolved, so too does our approach to the game.
The Life and Times of Abralon
A lot has been written about the longevity of Abralon and SiaAir abrasive pads. My advice;
if you want your Abralon and Sia pads to last, exercise a little care. By using three easy steps,
I have extended the life of my abrasive pads and have sanded 12 bowling balls (and counting)
using the same five abrasive pads, (360, 500, 1000, 2000, and 4000 grits), with no discernible
loss of performance. Granted I am not using all of the pads each time I sand a ball. Usually it’s a
combination of three pads, with the 500 grit getting the most use.
When you get done with a project don’t just set the pad aside, let it dry, and then expect it to be
effective the next time you want to sand a ball. Instead, place the still wet pad in a sink or tub of
warm water with a small amount of dish soap added. Use just enough water to float the pad.
Place the pad abrasive side down in the water. Swirl it around a little and allow it soak for a
few minutes. This will remove the lane oil and help to loosen the gritty residue. Remove the pad
and rinse it under running water. Lay the pad flat on a towel to dry. Don’t squeeze the water out
of the pad like it you would a wash cloth as this will damage the abrasive.
Remember, you are not removing that much material each time you refresh or resurface a ball.
It doesn’t take much change to effect the reaction of a bowling ball down lane. Even with a ball
that has seen its fair share of time on the lanes, sanding for 30 seconds or less is usually all that is
required if you are using a SMarT Star or SMarT Sun and ball spinner.
Just like a horse, you don’t ride an abrasive pad hard and put it away wet. Exercise a little care
and you will be surprised at how long the pads last.
See you at the lanes,
Polish Your Ball Inc.
So You Want To Be a Rocket Scientist
While researching various bowling ball manufacturers’ websites on the subject of bowling
ball maintenance, which was hard to find or nonexistent, I came across this definition
used in reference to a particular bowling ball’s coverstock, “…technology is the study of
manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale.” Wow! The old saying,
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist” may be just that, old.
Luckily this is not the case, yet. Daily ball maintenance is simply a matter of cleaning the
bowling ball with a quality ball cleaner after each set to remove oil and dirt. There are
general ball cleaners as well as specialized cleaners for various types of coverstocks;
solid, pearl, particle, etc. There are cleaners that can: add length, create more backend motion,
increase mid-lane read, increase or decrease hook. You can fine tune your
bowling ball’s reaction with the right cleaner.
Surface management is more involved and open to experimentation.I found three
manufacturers’ websites that offered recommendations for resurfacing. All three told you,
as a general rule, which grit abrasive to use and in what sequence. Two gave an indication
as to the duration of each step in a four step sanding process, ranging from 15 sec.
to 90 sec. per side, per grit. Only one mentioned pressure and then just (lightly).
This is an area where trying different finishes can pay big dividends.
Polish was an area that was only slightly touched upon, with no specifications other than
what polish was used at the factory for the final finish. As with cleaners, there are polishes
that perform specific tasks. Try applying a second coat of polish and see what happens.
As an example start with PowerHouse Factory Finish Polish and follow that with a coat of
PowerHouse Extender Polish. This will create more length while retaining energy
resulting in increased backend motion.
The most important thing to remember is to keep records. Without records you will not
be able to repeat a finish you like or know what to change if you didn’t.
Even rocket scientists keep records. Have an open mind; use your imagination and experiment.
See you at the lanes,
From the ‘Rookie’ bowling in his first Pro tournament to Walter Ray Williams Jr., the 2011
Senior PBA U.S. Open held in Las Vegas offered many lessons for the book.
Lesson # 1: Surface texture and finish. During“C” squad at this year’s Open the oil pattern
was fried, with dry heads and the mid-lane hooking. If lane oil were water, this truly was the desert.
Most of the bowlers were playing a very deep inside line, using equipment with polished
coverstocks. Getting more length was the issue. But by creating more length came the paradox
of more backend. Finish and continuation did not appear to be effected much by carry down.
And along comes Walter Ray. Using sanded equipment and ball speed to counter the
lane conditions, he tore the lanes up, shot big scores and moved up to first place after the first
18 games. By using a sanded ball surface, he was able to use up some energy early and tone
down the backend. This produced a more controllable reaction down lane and not the radical
move most others were experiencing.
Lesson #2: Even if you are able to find the pocket with equipment changes, converting
spares is a must. In the 2008 edition of the Senior Open, during the stepladder finals, each match
was decided by missed spares with the winner having a clean game. In this year’s tournament
one bowler I know personally missed the first cut by 100 pins. He had one of the highest
rev rates out there with a devastating reaction when he hit the pocket, but missed spares kept
him from advancing past the first 18 games of qualifying.
Lesson #3: Never ever give up. Anyone can be beaten in a one game match as witnessed
by the defeat of Walter Ray in the title match. Even the ‘rookie’ did not quit, practicing at the
end of the day after all squads were done. He never gave up.
So the lessons learned: When it comes to ball selection, sometimes you have to think
outside the lines of what is normal or usual. Practice spares and add 10 to 20 pins to your average.
Finally, never give up. The best can always be beaten.
One more thing I learned, the Seniors refer to the regular “PBA Tour “as the Junior Tour. Cute!