2015 USBC Open Championship Oil Pattern Program Sheet

This month’s Inside Line feature article is about key items on the KEGEL FLEX program sheet of both the Team event and the Singles and Doubles event oil patterns for this year's USBC Open Championships. 

Oil Pattern Distance

Oil pattern distance is one of the main key items to look for on any program sheet. The distance tells us how much dry back-end area is within any one pattern and can give us a good idea of where to play on the lane, providing the lane surface is fairly neutral. Essentially, the shorter the oil pattern is, the farther towards the outside portion of the lane one should play, and the longer the oil pattern is, the farther inside a pattern might play. Of course there are other variables that can affect this theory; like the amount of conditioner on the outside portion of the lane, the shape (topography) of the lane surface, and the friction of the lane surface. However, knowing the distance of the oil pattern, and how it affects your particular style of play, can help you line up quicker than not knowing this important pattern detail.

The distance of the oil pattern can be found at the top left corner of the KEGEL FLEX program sheet.

Oil Per Board Value Number

The Oil Per Board value, found at the top right of the FLEX oil pattern program sheet, is the size of the oil stream in microliters - the higher the value, the larger the oil stream, and the larger the stream, the more conditioner is applied to the lane.

Number of 2-2 Loads

The Number of 2-2 loads can often be a measure of difficulty. Think about these loads as the base of the oil pattern and all loads inside of the 2-2 loads are the shape of the oil pattern. The more 2-2 loads the more difficult an oil pattern will play because once there is a certain amount of conditioner across the entire lane surface, the shape of the oil pattern becomes less relevant.

At this year’s Open Championships, the 2-2 loads make up 12.95 milliliters of the total volume of the 27.05 singles/doubles oil pattern and 14.80 milliliters of the total volume of the 26.90 milliliters team event pattern.  In comparison, in most house patterns the 2-2 loads make up 3.7 milliliters of the total volume of the pattern which is in the 22 milliliter range.

The 2-2 loads are normally the first loads on the forward pass and the last load before the buff line in the reverse pass.

Buffer RPM

The FLEX lane machines in use at this year’s championship have four buffer speed options, which are noted on the program sheet by the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4. Number 1 is what we call slow buff, and it has a speed of 100 RPM. Number 2 is medium buff and has a speed of 200 RPM. Number 3 buffs at 500 RPM and is the default speed that is used on previous models such as the Kustodian ION and Kustodian Walker. Number 4 is high buff and has a speed of 720 RPM. (Note: Individual FLEX owners can customize the buffer RPM settings for their needs, so you may see different numbers on different program sheets.)

The different buffer speeds on the FLEX allow us to do a couple things; one is it allows us to fine tune the front to back taper of the oil pattern without changing lane machine drive speeds. The other is it allows us to condition the lanes in less time by allowing us to apply more conditioner in the front part of the lane without slowing the machine down, as we would have to do in machines with single speed buffer motors.

In short, the faster the speed of the buffer brush, the more conditioner can be applied in any one section of the oil pattern. Conversely, the slower the speed of the buffer brush, less conditioner will be applied to the lane surface.

You will notice on this year’s championship patterns the choice of using buffer speed 4 in the front part of the oil pattern on both the forward and reverse pass of the pattern. Medium and slow buff is not used in this year’s patterns.

The Load Structure

As previously mentioned, once there is a certain amount of conditioner on the lane the load structure becomes less relevant. However, one thing to note this year compared to recent years, and a house pattern, is how none of the loads are “stacked up”. This means the inside load streams are spread out across the oil pattern which makes the pattern a simple blend, or crowned oil pattern (See graphics above). 

Because of this type load structure there is not a defined oil line anywhere throughout either the Team or Doubles/Singles event patterns which places a premium on consistent shot making and accuracy.  Only once bowling begins, and depletion takes place, can an oil line be developed if, and that is a big if, everyone plays in the same place from the beginning of practice to at least through the first few frames of game one. This is called “managing the oil pattern” in modern bowling vernacular.

This year’s USBC Open Championship should prove out to be one of the lower scoring championships in recent years simply because of the flatness of the patterns. However, it should also prove out to be one of the most competitive because when scores are lower, the gap between the higher scores and lower scores is much narrower. 

In closing, if you have not already made the trip to El Paso, practice your spare game, have a good game plan with your teammates, and let your ball be your guide. 

How can a simple water filter become so clogged?

Anyone that maintains lane machines knows how critical routine maintenance is. But one item that often gets overlooked in lane machine upkeep are supply tank filters - the filters in the oil supply tank, filters in the cleaner supply tank, and now with the FLEX lane machine, the water supply tank filter (see help video below). In this feature article of the Inside Line, we’ll focus on the water supply tank and how those filters can become clogged over time, even though it’s just water.

Most people are aware that all water is not created equal. Water can be hard or soft, and have different levels of calcium, phosphates, nitrates, sodium, potassium, and chloride, along with some uninvited guests depending on the water treatment plants. These substances are known as Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). TDS is a measure of the “combined content of all inorganic and organic substances contained in a liquid in molecular, ionized, or micro-granular suspended form.” In layman’s terms, TDS is a measure of the amount of the stuff in the water you can’t see.

Knowing the TDS is all well and good but, how will this affect your lane machine filter? Well, when water sits around, you know mold and fungus can grow on the water’s surface. The water can become very pungent and you can actually see things growing and the water color changing. Think about bird baths and small fountains that don’t have running water; the stagnant water eventually turns rancid from mold and fungus growth. When water sits in a container for long periods of time, a biofilm will eventually begin to form. Biofilms form on surfaces like tank walls and filters. They will form on virtually every non-shedding surface in a non-sterile or very humid environment.

On your teeth, plaque is a biofilm. In your cooling and heating system, biofilm forms reducing the effectiveness of the system. The slimy stuff you see on rocks and pebbles in streams is biofilm. In stagnant pools of water, biofilms can form on the surface. Basically, a biofilm can form just about anywhere as long as there is a place for the cells to attach; the cells can attach to a solid surface or to each other.

So biofilms form in water, right? Well, why don’t biofilms form in bottled water at the grocery store? Bottled water is packaged to prevent biofilms from forming. The bottled water you buy from the store is packaged under nitrogen pressure to force out the air. This prevents biofilms from forming in the water while it sits on the shelf. Once the bottle is opened and air is introduced to the system, the biofilm can begin forming. This is one reason why you shouldn’t reuse bottles from bottled water without thoroughly cleaning them.

Biofilm goes through five stages of development:

1.    Initial attachment,
2.    Irreversible attachment,
3.    Maturation I,
4.    Maturation II,
5.    Dispersion.

The picture below shows how a biofilm develops through each of the different stages.


Water quality in a specific location will dictate how fast a bowling center will have biofilm develop. TDS and the specific treatment methods used at the local water treatment facilities will change the water quality. Eventually though, every center will have to clean and/or replace their lane machine water filter at some time. Just like your coffee maker at home, the water filter and supply tank should be cleaned periodically to prevent the problem. If you never clean your coffee maker, eventually the pump will fail. If you never clean your water supply tank in your single cup machines, a biofilm can form in the water tank.

At Kegel, we recommend removing and cleaning the water supply tank filter once a month. We also suggest flushing out the water supply tank at least every couple months, no matter how often you use your lane machine. The water is sitting in the supply tank the same amount of time no matter how many lanes you are doing a day – always.

This is what happens when filters are not maintained regularly:


If periodic maintenance is not being performed on a simple item like your water supply tank and filter, or any filter for that matter, the liquid in the tank will not flow properly and that will change your dilution ratios. We know changing dilution ratios will change ball motion. But, improper cleaning can also lead to a host of other issues.

Just like Sanction Technology has done for the oil system with process verification, with Kegel’s sprayless cleaner system it is easy to check volume output for water and cleaner. As we always say, “it’s better to know than to hope”. And as any lane person will tell you, it's also better for you to find any issues before your bowlers do.

Getting your Pinsetter Ready for the New Season

Maintenance to your pinsetter is important to keep your center running smoothly.  In this article, we will discuss some commonly overlooked maintenance items and some tips to help you prepare for your winter season.

Pin Damage

Sometimes pin damage can be easily explained as in the examples below, but some can be much more troublesome to find.  Small marks and scratches can accumulate so slowly over a period of time that irreversible damage sneaks up on you and can handicap the appearance, as well as the performance, of the pin.


QUICK TIP: Before you install a full set of new pins for the Fall Leagues, first start with installing one single pin in each pinsetter and run for a shift. Remove the new pin and examine it.  If there is any damage, remove the pin and tag the machine for a more in depth inspection.

Usually if pins are getting damaged and showing marks, you can locate the problem area by the evidence of pin chips or shavings. Loose or broken parts tend to scratch the pins, so inspecting all pin delivery paths should lead you to the problem.

Common Problems:

-Pin deck area - Screws, flat gutters, edge boards, and kickback plates
-Broken turret wires and missing deck rollers (A-2)
-Misadjusted turret wires can lead to damage from pulley or center chute (A-2)
-Broken or loose parts on the bin assembly (AMF)
-Missing ball wheel guards (A-2)
-Cracked plows (AMF)

These are just a few examples, but the most important thing to remember is that your problems should be fixed immediately before you risk damaging a new set of pins.   

Ball Lifts - See what you can “uncover” before Leagues start!

Ball lifts can easily become overlooked throughout the season since they are an efficient piece of equipment. They run pretty much trouble free so the old saying, “Out of sight, Out of mind!” fits here. Simply doing a quick cleaning and inspection can eliminate the chance of unexpected downtime or ball damage. 


-Make sure the lift turns on properly when either pinsetter is powered up
-Inspect belt and belt tracking
-Inspect ball lift tires
-Listen for any unwanted noises
-Check for loose hardware

After the ball lift is cleaned, insert two balls in the trap doors, push them into the lift, and watch the transition through the lift.  The balls should move up freely with no belt slippage.

Secondly, with the lift off, take a single ball and manually rotate the top pulley to feed the ball through the lift.  The ball should transition through the contact points of the two tires and C track smoothly. If you get binding or slipping spots through the transition, you may need to look at your upper and lower tire configuration.

There are several different kinds of tires and each of these have their own characteristics. Mixing and matching tires in a lift can also create different transition characteristics, so find a combination that works well for your center. Smooth consistent transition is the goal here. A binding lift can cause premature belt wear and may also lead to too much motor strain and amp draw, eventually causing the relays to fail.

By performing regular maintenance and catching problems early, you can help keep your center running at its top performance.

Learn about Kegel Pinsetter Parts

Oh No! My pattern is not playing the same as last year!


By Doug Dukes - Kegel Technical Sales Specialist and Kegel Pinsetter Parts

"My pattern is the same as last year but it is not playing the same"  is one of the #1 lines we hear this time of year.  As one of the techs at Kegel that has the privilege to not only help all of you on the phone, but to also work on lane machines in the field, let’s take a look at some overlooked parts and adjustments to your lane machine.

CLEANING - “You can’t paint the Mona Lisa on a piece of toilet paper.”

The number one overlooked problem on a lane machine is its ability to clean.  Anytime a pattern adjustment is requested because they don’t play the same, our first question is “have you done a clean only”.

On Spray Jet machines, the screen check valves (153-0220) should be taken out regularly and cleaned.  Lint build up on these can wreak havoc on the jet's ability to spray properly and as the check valves get weak, your spray tips can drip.  If you notice that your machine is using less cleaner, it may be a good time to take these screens out and clean them.  There are also two filters that cleaner passes through before it gets to the screen check valves, one in the tank (154-0212B) and one inline filter before the pump (154-8867A or 154-8887).  It is always good to replace these filters every summer.


On Sprayless Cleaning Systems, you need to replace the two filters talked about above, but also your Norprene tubing in your cleaner pump (154-0861B).  This style cleaner pump operates by using a set of rollers that press cleaner through this tubing every time the motor turns on.  Over time, this tubing can lose its ability to allow cleaner to be pushed through it, and your volumes can be significantly reduced.  Many times I have run a cleaner volume check on a lane machine and looked at the touchscreen only to realize that I was the last one to run the test during the yearly service last year!!!  You guessed it……the volume was significantly lower than what it should have been.

Once you change the tubing, run a volume check and set it to your desired output and monitor this for a few weeks as the tubing breaks in.  It will vary a bit during this time and a readjustment may be required, but it will settle in quickly.  This should be checked on a regular basis throughout your season as well.

The cushion roller (153-8838 standard roller and 153-8839 roller with wrap), is another frequently overlooked piece to the cleaning puzzle.  The size of the cushion is the key to your cleaning.  If we think about how the cushion roller works, when the cloth unwinds, the cushion roller drops onto its stop bolts.  When the machine is pushed onto the lane, the cushion actually lifts up off the stop bolts, and the weight of the cushion is what helps clean the lane.  Simple right?  If your cushion has gotten smaller over time, now it is not making full contact with the lane surface.  This means it will not clean well.  Mona Lisa and toilet paper soon to follow.

If you look at your cushion roller and see the “alligator skin” look, the ends are flaring out or torn and the cloth is visually pulling into the roller, or if you can wrap your hand completely around it, it is probably time to send it to greener pastures.  One trick I show during service stops is releasing the tension on the cushion roller when you finish your lanes.


On machines that have the take up roll on the top, you can stand the machine in the transport position when finished and open the duster compartment.  Slide the take up roll to the side and turn it 180 degrees and lock it back in place.  This will relieve the pressure on the roller and when you turn the machine on to run lanes the next day, the machine will find “home” and wind the cloth back up for you.  This can extend the life of your cushion and save you from headaches mid-season.

Squeegee blades (153-8204E Blue or 153-8834 Brown) normally are not overlooked, but why leave them out.  Your squeegees should be flipped every six months, and changed once a year.  You don’t want to leave any cleaner behind.  Always check for your 1/8 to 3/16 adjustment as well, once you change or flip your blades and adjust accordingly.

Recovery tank filters are another overlooked item in the cleaning process.  Waste tank a little lighter than normal?  Check your filter and change it regularly. This is the perfect time to flush out your vacuum hoses and check for small pin holes that may affect suction, along with cleaning your vacuum motor and checking the motor brushes.


Conditioning - “The best canvas deserves a worthy brush.”

A few minor adjustments in your transfer system that have been overlooked can also make you pull your hair out when you’re dialing in your pattern.

Have you checked your crush adjustments on your brush?  Most people check the crush from the buffer brush to the lane and set their buffers at 1/8 to 3/16.  What most people don’t check is the crush to the transfer brush or roller depending on the machine type.  If it can’t pick it up off the transfer brush or roller it can’t get it to the lane!

As the brush wears, it may lose some contact with the transfer brush or roller.  When getting ready for the fall season with an existing brush, or when putting in a new brush, always check this adjustment.  We like to see 1/8 inch of crush to the roller or transfer brush.

On a transfer brush system, if you turn the buffer on while the brush is in the down position, you should see a thin light colored line where the transfer brush and buffer brush meet.  This is from the bristles on the buffer brush being pushed together as they push against the transfer brush.  Adjust accordingly.

Your pressure gauge can tell you a lot about your lane machine as well.  If your pressure gauge fluctuates as you are applying loads or your pressure seems much higher than normal, you may need to clean your oil control valve.  Dirt can accumulate in your valve over time and cause pressure fluctuations while applying loads.  If the valve is dirty, take a good look at your filter inside your oil tank as well (154-0212).  Replacing it once a year will keep you in top running order.

Your lane machine is one of the most important machines in your center.  My final example I tend to give to proprietors and mechanics alike goes something like this…….

If one of your pinsetters happens to go down during a league, you may upset at most the 10 people that are bowling on that pair. But you probably have the parts to be able to fix this later that evening.  If your lane machine goes down, and you have a 32 lane center that is full, you’ve now made 160 people upset, and you may NOT have the parts to fix it.  You next day air the parts, but your still down the next night, and 160 turns into 320.  It is extremely important that you keep your machine clean, do your daily and monthly preventative maintenance, and not take your lane machine for granted.  Always keep a few parts on hand.  One of every relay, two of every fuse, a fuse holder, a head drive belt, check valves, etc.

This minimal list of low-cost items can be the difference between a full house of happy bowlers, or a lynch mob and a quick backdoor exit of the center.   Spend ten minutes a day, 20 minutes once a week, an hour a month and a half day every six months on your machine, and you will be able to keep it clean, and inspect the machine for wear on a regular basis.  Always remember we are only a phone call away 24 hours a day 7 days a week from anywhere in the world.  We are ALWAYS here to help.

Good luck and good scoring on your 2013-2014 Fall Season.

Understanding 3 Point Targeting with Quiet Eye in 7 Easy Steps

By Rick Wiltse, Coach at the Kegel Training Center

In the history of bowling there have been many methods to allow bowlers to accurately roll a bowling ball from one point to another on a bowling lane.  Probably the most common and easily recognizable target system has been the seven “arrows” that are placed between 12 and 15 feet past the foul line on most every lane in bowling.  More specifically, the 2nd arrow on either side of the lane has become the most famous target for bowlers.  In addition, bowlers have used pin bowling, spot bowling, area bowling, visualizing the ball path and breakpoint targeting.

All these targeting methods have been used with some measure of success, but none of these systems compare to the immediate improvement in accuracy and consistency that has been documented by using 3 Point Targeting and Quiet Eye.

At the Kegel Training Center, the coaching staff has been teaching this very effective targeting system called 3 Point Targeting with Quiet Eye. Although our research has proven that this system produces dramatic improvement almost immediately, it also has raised more questions by bowlers than any other area of bowling in my experience as a Kegel coach.  In this article we will explore 7 Easy Steps to Understanding 3 Point Targeting with Quiet Eye and we will then answer some of the most common questions asked by our students at the Kegel Training Center.  This process will hopefully give you a much better understanding of 3 Point Targeting with Quiet Eye which, in my opinion, is close to being a “magic bullet” in bowling.

Step 1 – How Long is the Oil Pattern - Find out the length of the oil pattern on the lanes where you will be bowling.  This can be done by reading a program sheet or lane graph.  You can also consult your local laneman or the center staff who may be able to tell you pattern length.  If none of these methods work, you can roll a few slow speed practice shots and make an educated guess as to where the oil ends and the dry lane begins based on the hooking action of your ball.

Step 2 – The Formula PL Minus 31 - Take pattern length (PL) number and subtract 31.  The result of this subtraction will give you the desired location of your bowling ball at the end of the oil on the pattern.  For example, if the pattern length (PL) is 43, subtract 31 from 43 and the result will be 12.  Board 12 (at 43 feet) is where your bowling ball should be to gain the most margin of error for this lane pattern.

Step 3The Focal Point - Look at board 12 at 43 feet down lane and draw a straight line to the pins.  Pick out a part of the pin that most closely matches up with the line from board 12.  Each pin will have 5 locations that may match the line.

1. Inside edge
2. Center
3. Outside edge
4. Inside base
5. Outside base

The pin location you selected for the 43 foot pattern should be the outside edge of the 3 pin (board 12) and this will be called your “Focal Point”.

Step 4The Visual Target - Now trace back from the outside edge of the 3 pin location along the line to board 12 and extend this line back to a visual target of your choice such as the arrows or dots.  This location will be called your “Visual Target”.

Step 5Locate Your Starting Point on the Approach - Step up on the approach and align your body with the Focal Point and Visual Target by placing the inside edge of your slide foot 6 boards from the 12 board.  In this example, that would place the inside of your slide foot on board 18.  Now your body is properly positioned to swing the ball and roll it down board 12 toward the outside edge of the 3 pin.  Achieving this trajectory will give you the most margin for error and the greatest chance to strike even if you miss your target on one side or the other.

Step 6Quiet Eye - Combine this targeting system with what we call “quiet eye”.  To implement “quiet eye” simply focus on the “Focal Point” which in this case is the outside edge of the 3 pin for two full seconds – count in your mind 1001 – 1002.  Then move your eyes smoothly from the focal point pin to the Visual Target at the arrows or dots.  Again, focus on the Visual Target for two full seconds – a count of 1001 – 1002.  Then take a breath, exhale and execute your delivery keeping your eyes on the Visual Target throughout your approach.

Step 7Drift and Shift - Note the position of your slide foot at the foul line and determine if you have any “Drift”.  If so, adjust your starting position (based on the amount of drift) so that you will be sliding on the appropriate board at the foul line.  In our example, you want to slide on board 18.  If your drift causes you to slide 2 boards to the left (board 20), you will need to adjust your starting position on the approach 2 boards to the right (board 16) to compensate for your drift and slide on board 18.  Finally, if you roll the ball down the intended target line and you don’t hit the pocket, you will need to make an adjustment or “Shift” such as a 2 and 1 move (2 boards with your feet and 1 board with your eyes) to hit the pocket.  Continue to adjust as oil depletion occurs on the lane and your ball motion changes.

The Example below shows three focal points for short, medium, or long lane patterns, for both right and left-hand bowlers.  Right-hand bowlers would focus on some part of the 10-pin for short patterns, a part of the 6-pin for medium patterns, or a part of the 3-pin for longer patterns.  Left-hand bowlers would use the 7-pin, 4-pin, or 2-pin respectively.


Answering Questions About 3 Point Targeting with Quiet Eye

Question: Most students, who come to the Kegel Training Center, enter with a strong desire to get better and a willingness to try almost anything to improve their game.  The exception to this willingness to try new techniques seems to appear most often when we ask a student to try a new targeting system.  The comment is often heard, “But I’ve always used the 2nd arrow as my primary target”.  The implied question is “Why should I change?”

Answer: The response to this question is simple.  If you use a single point as a target such as the 2nd arrow, it is possible to roll a bowling ball across that target at an infinite number of angles – each time hitting the 2nd arrow, but each time the angle of the ball path will be different.  In order to obtain consistency, two points are needed to create a straight line and a ball path with a single angle of travel.  Thus, the use of at least two points for targeting increases accuracy and consistency to a degree well beyond the scattered outcomes of using a single point target.

Question: The 3 Point Targeting System begins with a simple mathematical calculation that we have termed pattern length minus 31 (PL – 31).  For some bowlers who are feel players or who just don’t feel comfortable with math, this beginning calculation can be a roadblock to going further.  The question for these bowlers becomes, “Why do I have to solve a math problem to bowl?”

Answer: The incentive to find out the lane pattern length by asking your local laneman or center staff or by consulting a program sheet is that by doing this simple subtraction problem you will gain the most margin for error.  This means that every time you use this simple formula you will be able to miss your target left or right by the largest margin possible and still have a chance to hit the pocket and strike – not a bad incentive to go back to math class!

Question: The next question that we often hear is “How does PL-31 give me the most margin for error?”

Answer: If you examine the lane graph shown above you can see that outside board 12 there is a lower volume of oil on the lane.  This means that if you miss your target to the outside, the ball will encounter less oil (more friction) and it will hook back toward the pocket.

The lane graph also shows that inside board 12 there is a larger volume of oil, thus if you miss your target to the inside, the ball will encounter more oil (less friction) and it will tend to “hold” its position and stay close to the pocket. In this way, the PL-31 formula insures that you have the most margin to miss your target and still hit the pocket and strike.

Question: So now let’s say that you’ve made it past PL-31.  For example, you found out from the front desk staff that the house pattern is 40 feet long.  You take the number 40 (which represents PL) and you correctly subtract 31.  The result is 9.  The next question is, “Now what do I do with this number 9?”

Answer: The number 9 represents the board on the lane that the ball should be on at the end of the 40 foot oil pattern in order to gain the most margin of error. Look down the lane to board 9 at approximately 40 feet keeping in mind that the lane is 60 feet long from the foul line to the head pin.  From this point on board 9, draw an imaginary line to the pins and pick out part of a pin that corresponds to the imaginary line. In this case it will be the center of the 6 pin.

Then move your eyes smoothly back from the center of the 6 pin and a corresponding visual target of your choice (i.e. at the arrows; at the dots or at the foul line). This will allow you to select a starting position on the approach and to have two points of reference to guide your swing along the correct ball path to get the most margin of error.

In summary, 3 Point Targeting with Quiet Eye offers an effective method to increase your accuracy and consistency.  Using the seven steps above, you should be able to obtain a clear understanding of how to practice this technique which will help take your game to the next level.  For more information or to schedule a lesson, please contact the Kegel Training Center at: US Toll Free (800) 280-2695 or International +1 (863) 734 0200.

Silicone is Not a Four Letter Word

We’ll say it right up front - silicone in lane conditioners is a good thing. That’s right…it’s a good thing. In modern chemistry there are no other additives that perform, and are as safe, as silicone. It’s that simple.

The idea of using silicon in place of carbon did not come to be until the early 1900’s. The first patent ever issued for a silicon containing chemical was not issued until the 1940’s. This is when the term silane was developed, later to be known as silicone.

In the early years of development, silicone products were developed and used everywhere with great success. Where all of the problems started with silicone and finish came from wood polishes. It was noticed that these new products repelled water, and when people started to recoat the furniture and floors that were polished with this new stuff, they could not get the finish to wet. The finish would fisheye everywhere. Eventually they figured out the silicone was not cleaned off the outer layer of coating and when they sanded the furniture, they sanded the silicone into the wood.

A similar problem occurred in the bowling industry in the late 1970’s with a lane conditioner called 42/40. That lane conditioner was silicone oil and created a bunch of problems with recoating, and this is when silicone was deemed bad by the bowling industry. However, you could recoat wood lanes in bowling centers that used 42/40, it just required more work. A fisheye remover was required to get the finish to wet the lane surface again. Almost all fisheye removers contain a type of silicone.

To say something has silicone in it, and therefore it is bad, is a very generic statement. But that’s what has happened in the bowling industry. Anyone claiming silicone is unsafe is intentionally misleading by using fear from something that happened over 30 years ago.  Currently, there are thousands of chemicals that contain the Si (silicon), and they can be found in everything from cleaners to adhesives. In cleaners there are silicone based surfactants and silicon based builders, with some of these being used in the bowling industry today.

The reason for using silicone chemistry in products is simple, performance. Most silicone additives are used in very small amounts, typically less than 0.5%. With carbon based additives on the other hand, it takes 1-3% of those less safe amounts to achieve a similar performance effect. Kegel uses 0.1% or less of silicone chemistry in its lane conditioners to increase performance, while keeping a focus on safety. There are other lane conditioners on the market that use similar silicone chemistry, also in very small amounts.

The advantage is achieving the desired properties with maximum safety for everything the conditioner comes in contact with, and those products are tested extensively to ensure just that.

Nevertheless there are still some companies that like to promote their products as silicone free, as if it’s a good thing.  However, the alternative chemistry available for use today is less safe in terms of health. Companies that claim their lane conditioners to be silicone free are just trying to sell you something based on a fear of something that happened in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. 

Chemistry has come a long way over the years. If you read the material list on the back of a product in your house you will find silicones in most of them. Silicones performance and safety make it great choice for use in everyday products. Bottom line, silicones are good.

What a Shock - Newton Correct!

By Lou Trunk – Professional lane installer
Two time winner of BPAA Special Projects Award
USBC National Tournament Lane Installer and/or Stand-By Service Manager since 1987

Over the past 24 months, along with the staff at Kegel, we have stepped up the topography testing of years prior by performing revolutionary experiments and gathering data from all over the world. We have been closely studying different lane shapes, creating formulas, having late night jams sessions, and watching 1000’s of bowling balls go down the lane trying to prove, and disprove, how topography affects the motion and the direction of the bowling ball as it rolls from foul line to off the end of the pin deck. Notice we didn’t write head pin. As you read the full series, you’ll come to understand why.

This series of articles may be the most important subject players, proprietors, tournament organizers and administrators of the game have ever read regarding the technical side of the modern day sport of bowling.

Newton Correct!

The “thought experiments” we, along with a very few others, have been executing in our minds for over 20 years, finally took to the lanes early November 2009 in the form of actual measured real life situations of lane topography, on which actual real life bowlers of various styles threw shots, which produced observable and CATS™ measured ball reactions.

The initial tests were exciting and invigorating to John Davis, Bill Mongeau, Ted Thompson and me, but probably not so shocking to Sir Isaac. Indeed, it appears that Newton’s First and Second Laws in fact apply to the game of Bowling.

In layman’s terms, these experiments involve three basics: 

1. Momentum, (and the law of conservation of momentum): a body’s momentum equals it’s mass times it’s velocity p=mv (p is the symbol for Momentum).

2. Newton’s First Law of Motion, which states in the absence of force, a moving body will move in a straight line at constant speed.

3. Newton’s Second Law of Motion, which states when a force is applied to a body,acceleration will result in the direction of the force.

Most important with regard to Newton’s Second Law for our experiments, is that the net force on an object is equal to the time rate of change of its linear momentum.

For example, the more momentum a ball has, the more force will be needed to act upon the ball, in order to change the ball’s path by a certain distance.

In bowling, the gravitational force on a bowling ball comes from a lane’s tilts, depressions and crowns. And mind you, there is not a perfectly flat lane anywhere on this planet.

Most everyone in the bowling industry considers the lane surface as a two dimensional surface. A flat plane, or an X and Y axis, with the X axis being the width of a lane, and the Y axis being the length of a lane. If the lane was merely two dimensional, gravity would simply be a constant throughout any bowling ball’s journey down any lane. That is simply never the case, and the often unconsidered Z axis – the change in elevation – has a significant amount of influence on ball motion.

For our experiments we considered the force, momentum and inertia situations. The constants on repeated shots were mass (ball weight), lane surface, gravity, oil type and oil pattern; which combine to produce a certain ball path shape for a certain bowler with a certain ball on a flat surface. Then we changed only the topography, and that’s where the “shock” began. And it was shocking to us, but not to Sir Isaac Newton.

Slope per Board is the Key!

The first thing we must explain is the creation of a brand new term in bowling called, Slope per Board. With the invention of the Kegel Lane Mapper, by taking crown and depression readings of each and every board across the lane, and then adding the single crosstilt reading to each board,we can calculate the slope of each board at any distance on the bowling lane.

To fully understand the significance of this reading, we must understand that as the bowling ball travels down the lane from foul line to pin deck, it simply reacts to whatever gravitational force is acting on the ball on whatever specific board it is on at any one moment in time, and it doesn’t care about the slope of surrounding boards.

For instance, we know a bowling lane consists of 39 boards, and if a bowling lane is tilted high right 40/1000” (1 mm), which is the maximum allowable amount under the specification rules, that would give us a slope per board value of about 1/1000” (.025 mm) for each board on the lane.


If we double that crosstilt to be 80/1000” (2 mm), which is two times the allowable amount under the specification rules, that would give us a slope per board value of 2/1000” (.050 mm) for each board.

Another instance that would give us that same 2/1000" slope per board value, but be within current specification, would be a 40/1000” v-shaped crown or depression directly to the center of the lane (.040” slope/20 boards = .002” slope/board.)

The ball doesn’t care about the specification. It feels the exact same gravitational influence of .002” under each scenario – one scenario twice the allowable amount, and one perfectly within specification.

Further, as soon as we introduce crowns and depressions into the equation, that crosstilt slope per board value can increase significantly, or even decrease, and depending on which way the gravitational slope is, it will influence the bowling ball to the left or to the right as it travels down and across the lane surface.


What did we do?

We, so far had introduced a “force” to the ball, a Gravitational Force. We shaped a few of the adjustable Kegel Training Center lanes with consistent gravitational shapes relative to the lane, yet contradicting gravitational forces relative to the ball’s inertial path.

On one pair of lanes, we created as near a non-imbalanced gravitational force as we could, as flat as possible. This gives us a benchmark ball motion reaction where there is constant gravitational force on the bowling ball as it rolls down the lane.

On another pair, we created two opposite shapes.

One lane had a legal gravitational imbalance of approximately .003” slope per board (SPB) low left for a right-hander playing anywhere from 1-20 board. We did this by creating a .040” low left crosstilt (.001”SPB), plus a .040” smooth V-shaped depression from both 1 boards to the 20 board (.002” SPB) which gives us that .003” per board slope effect toward the center of the lane for a right-handed player.

On this lane’s mate, we created the low right equivalent. We did this by reversing what we did on the companion lane.

It is important to note that this very shape yields only a .001” slope for a left-hander playing anywhere from boards 1-20 on his side, since the combination of the tilt and the crown/depression compound the slope for the right-hander but are partially counterbalancing for the left-hander.

And finally, just like the pictures above, we created two lanes with real world situations of a net gravitational imbalance of approximately .005” slope per board. One lane with a gravitational force towards the center of the lane, and the other gravitational force towards the right gutter for a right-handed player, which was again opposite but nearly flat for the left-hander because of the counter-balancing combination of the crosstilt plus the crown and depression.

What did we see?

Newton would be proud. The left-handers had all pairs about the same. The right-handers certainly did not. The relative effect on the bowling ball was proportional in three ways. First, there was nearly double the effect on a ball’s path at .005” slope per board as there was at .003” slope per board in the direction of the slope.

Secondly, the effect was proportionally less for higher ball speeds and greater for slower ball speeds. The faster the ball was thrown, the less boards the ball missed the intended breakpoint because of the gravitational effects of the lane topography.

Remember that the displacement caused by a gravitational influence is a function of the time spent on the influence, so it stands to reason: faster speed = less time on the influence = less displacement.

Sure enough, the differences in the two opposite gravity force lanes were proportionally greater for slower ball speed players. And third, lighter weight balls were proportionally more effected by a certain slope.

So at this point, what we had tested so far, were bowling lanes with a consistent gravitational force, either inward or outward, and bowlers of various speeds and ball weights relative to themselves – comparing a bowler’s data to his own data on the various shapes. Then we gathered data comparing bowlers to other bowlers. Bowler A playing straight up the 5 board and Bowler B playing 20 to a break point of 5.

For Bowler A, where the ball hit the pins was greatly different since his ball’s translation was almost continuously at a 90 degree angle to the gravitational force vector. The net change in impact position was greatest with this style on these opposite lane shapes.

Bowler B’s net change in impact position was not as significantly different as Bowler A’s, because Bowler B had the gravitational force displacing his ball at a slightly more obtuse angle (an angle greater than 90° and less than 180°).

The results for the two launch angles are very different and very significant.

It would appear that the nightmare pair for the down-and-in type player is one lane tilted left all the way and one lane tilted right all the way, because his ball is continuously influenced near perpendicular to his ball’s path throughout its travel from foul line to pins, so the impact point change is huge. As much as hitting the pocket on one lane and hitting only the 3 off the right (6-9-10 pins) on the other.

The boomer’s ball (Bowler B) had less perpendicular gravitational effects on its way down the lane both to and from the breakpoint in this all left slope or all right slope situation. The impact point doesn’t change as much as Bowler A, but the hitting power and shape of the ball path does.

Bowler B’s ball path shape was more of a curve on the all left slope covering far less boards. It was easier to control the shot, and it was less speed sensitive, but incurred a lower percentage pocket carry. On the all right slope Bowler B’s ball path shape was more of a skid-snap type reaction covering more boards but with less control. The ball was also more speed sensitive however it had a higher pocket carry percentage.

Newton would certainly agree, that to be fair to all players, all ball weights, all speeds, and all launch angles, FLAT is the only fair situation, and the further we deviate from flat, the more unfair the game becomes.

Lighter bowling balls and slower ball speeds are influenced more in non-flat situations than heavier bowling balls and faster ball speeds.

Further, the gravitational effects of depressions, crowns and tilts have widely varied effects on varied launch angles. The more a bowling lane strays away from flatness, the more those gravitational effects influence different styles of play in different ways.

So now it’s time to continue our testing by redoing each test over and over. The story continues.

Newton…what a guy.

Fine Tuning your House League Pattern

This is the time of year when new seasons have begun and pattern decisions are being put to the test. You’ve made your choice, laid out the pattern, and now things aren’t going exactly as planned. You’ve verified that your machine is in perfect working order, now what do you do?

Once the bowlers take to the lane, lots of problems can come to light. If a majority of your bowlers are experiencing the same problem, it may be time to make adjustments to the pattern. Common complaints could be: too much carrydown, back ends too strong, not enough hold area, heads hooking, no swing, track dries up too quickly, or no taper. How do you trouble-shoot your pattern and fine-tune it to get the ideal conditions for this year’s league? Here are some tips for common problems with patterns which should help you make proper adjustments.

Too Much Carrydown

Too much conditioner at the end of the pattern can cause excessive carrydown. This can be rectified by not loading as far down lane on the forward pass or increasing the machines buff out speed, which decreases the amount of conditioner on the lane towards the end of the pattern.

If your machine has our reverse brush drop feature, this is another fine tune adjustment you can make to bring the amount of conditioner farther back towards the foul line, or limit the amount of conditioner towards the end of the pattern. Poor cleaning can also cause carrydown issues. This can come from an incorrect mixture of cleaner or improper machine performance. It can never hurt to double check to make sure your machine is cleaning properly. To do this, perform a clean-only run on a few lanes and see if all the conditioner and cleaner are removed from each lane.

Back Ends Are Too Strong

Lengthen the pattern or create more taper to tone down the back end reaction. Tamer back ends provide predictable ball reaction and make spare shooting much easier.

Different types of cleaner provide different back end motions; this is another “condition” adjustment you can try. You could also experiment with a weaker ratio of cleaner to water mixture, but be careful; there is a fine line between getting the lane clean, and not clean enough.

Not Enough Hold Area

Make no mistake about it, as much as bowlers think they like swing area, what creates the highest scoring environment is hold area. The hold area is created by the amount of shape in the pattern towards the end as well as some friction outside of target. Without both, it is just about impossible to have the other.

If your lane machine has reverse oiling capabilities, starting the reverse oil loads farther down the lane will help increase hold without fear of getting too much conditioner at the end of the pattern, which as we said before, can cause carrydown issues.

Lane topography can increase hold area, a side slope away from the pocket at the break point area for instance, but topography can also minimize hold area if the side slope is towards the pocket at the break point area. Before you start searching for hold area by way of the oil pattern, get to know your lanes to make sure your lanes will allow the type of shot you are searching for.

Heads are “Hooking”

The amount of oil in the lay down area, or a lane surface in poor condition, can cause the heads to hook. In both instances, the lane machine should run slower in the heads, 10 or 14 inches per second on Kegel machines. The slower the machine travels, the more brush strokes per distance traveled which increases the amount of conditioner to any one area. This is better controlled on the return oil due to the direction of travel and the rotation of the buffer brush. Apply oil loads during the return travel that finish closer to the foul line (but not less than 4 feet).

Another thing that will give the perception that the heads are hooking is when the lay-down point of the bowling ball is on the upslope of severely depressed heads. No amount of oil in the world can fight a significant gravity influence towards the headpin in this situation.

No Swing Area

The amount of oil on the outside boards or adverse lane topography can affect swing area. Reducing the length of your oil pattern, or decreasing the amount of the applied oil on the outside boards, will increase the amount of swing area. But be cautious, even though bowlers like to swing the ball, your lanes just may not allow that to happen with the success you, and they, are looking for. Just know, however, our highest scoring patterns are the ones where most styles can go up the lane and have hold area.

A recent example is the 2011 WTBA Women's World Championship where many scoring records were set on the 47' Paris oil pattern. Note: the 2011 version of the Paris pattern tapes out at 4.2:1 at 22', so be aware if you try and use this in your Sport Bowling league.

Another example of a high scoring pattern is our Kegel Navigation Challenge pattern Route 66. This 45’ pattern routinely outscores many higher ratio shorter recreation patterns.

If you have topography issues, or side slopes that go towards the outside portion of the lane, the pattern should be adjusted by stacking up your inside oil line, applying conditioner farther towards the end on the forward and reverse passes, and allow the bowlers to play a more direct line to the pocket. This should create more area where ball reaction is concerned on a longer pattern.

Another topographic issue that can decrease swing area is depressed heads. Depressed heads cause the ball to quickly lose energy which makes down lane recovery (swing area) very difficult no matter how little oil you apply to the outside boards, or how much you apply to the heads.

Track Area Dries Up Too Quickly

Many bowling centers do not apply enough oil to the mid-lane track area on both the forward and return passes. Applying oil to the track on the return pass can help provide more longevity and stability without drastically affecting the forward oil readings and ball motion at the end of the oil pattern. Another adjustment is widening your pattern slightly. As balls hook more, the track area is becoming wider and farther down-lane. Take your middle loads and try widening them out a board or two and see if this adjustment gives you more longevity to your track area.

No Taper to My Pattern

The easiest way to create taper in the pattern is to make adjustments to your lane machine’s drive speeds during the forward pass only. Increasing the drive speeds on your forward run towards the end of the pattern will apply less oil in that area which increases front to back taper.

If your machine has Kegel's reverse brush drop capability, dropping the buffer brush farther back into the pattern on the reverse pass can also give you more front to back taper within your pattern.


With these tips, tricks, and troubleshooting techniques, you should be able to tweak your pattern and make it playable for most of your league bowlers. However, even with excellent lane conditions, you may still not be able to please everyone. If you reach the point where the majority of the bowlers are happy and bowling well, then it may be time to leave the lanes alone.

As always, it is important to remember that the pattern is not the only factor contributing to your lane conditions. You are competing against the lane topography, the other bowlers who share the lane, and Mother Nature herself. With topography, we cannot stress enough how important it is for you to know the shape of your lanes. When that information is known, finding that right oil pattern for your center is much easier. Without it, it's just a trial and error exercise.

To learn more about how topography and weather can affect your lane conditions, visit our INSIDE LINE archive.

Bowling is about skills and technique, but it is also about versatility and one’s ability to read the lanes and make adjustments to account for those factors which are out of your control.

Warning: Managing lane conditions may result in the loss of sanity. If it occurs, please contact our free Kegel Tech Support at (800) 280-2695 and we’ll help you get it back.