Inside Line Tech Tips - Summer 2011

“The oil pattern didn’t play anything like it did at home!”

Often times I hear this comment and there are many reasons why this can happen.  Frequently, the center that you are going to bowl the tournament in (say for example the USBC Open Championships) is using a different brand of cleaner, different oil, and a different lane surface (not even taking account of one of the biggest differences….topography).  Those are very obvious factors, but often people think that because they have the same lane machine as at the tournament site that it should cover all of those differences.  Ultimately, even if you have the same lane surface, oil, cleaner, and lane machine, differences will still remain.

One of the differences we see often is the physical condition of the lane machine.  Even though each Kegel lane machine leaves the factory meeting all of our strict adjustment and performance specifications, what happens to it from there is totally dependent on the maintenance (or lack thereof) that is given to it. 

For an example, let’s compare two cars:  Two 2011 Chevrolet Corvettes. 

One Corvette lands in the hands of a business man who uses it strictly as a commuter car.  He washes and waxes it every week, changes the oil right at 3000 miles, and always uses synthetic oil.  He manages to put 25,000 miles on the car in a 12-month period.

The second Corvette ends up being a rental car.  The car is in numerous drivers’ hands many of which perform routine burnouts and jackrabbit starts.   This car also logs 25,000 miles in a 12-month span. 

Though both of these cars started their life exactly the same, do you think both cars are going to look the same and perform the same after 12 months?  Do you think the interiors are going to be the same?  It wouldn’t surprise me if the rental car’s transmission doesn’t shift as crisp and probably a few of the basic items are a little more worn out (brakes, parking brake, tires, etc.)  All I know is, I’ll take Corvette number 1 and you can take a chance with the rental car, haha!

Knowing this, do you think all lane machines are treated the same?  We’ve seen many lane machines after one year look like they’ve never been cleaned!  Oil drips out of the vacuum motor (where it never should), the transfer brush is filled with dirt and hair, the paint is peeling off due to cleaner being spilled on it numerous times, and the frame has been tweaked throwing the factory adjustments out of spec since the machine has been dropped more than a half-dozen times due to negligence.

- Do you think that this machine I described above will put out the pattern the same way the brand new machines we have at the USBC Open Championships will?

- Do you think the pattern will be the same with a machine that doesn’t clean the lane well because the squeegee blades or cushion roller have never been changed?

- Do you think the pattern will be the same even if the cleaner tank filter is clogged and the Norprene cleaner tubing hasn’t been changed in over a year which results in half the amount of cleaner coming out (resulting in poor cleaning) and now you’re oiling on top of a film?

- Do you think the pattern will be the same even if the transfer brush has so much dirt in it that it keeps the oil in the transfer brush an extra 6 feet down the lane?

Many factors will make a pattern play different from center to center but often one of the biggest is the physical condition of the machine itself.  Stay up with the maintenance of the parts that commonly wear out (squeegee blades, buffer brush, cushion rollers, etc.), keep the machine clean, and your lane condition will be more consistent from week to week and month to month. 

Like our VP of R&D Mark Davis once said:  “Machines that look like new….tend to perform like new.”

Preparing your Lane Machine for the Fall Season

As many bowling centers close during the summer months, it is especially important to properly prepare your machine to begin a new fall season.  If this is not done, it can lead to restriction to flow in the system, or problems with ball reaction at an inconvenient time after the league season has begun. 

In order to stay ahead of Murphy ’s Law, I urge customers to follow the Boy Scout motto and “Be Prepared.”  You will thank yourself for performing this preventative maintenance on your machine.

The first thing you will need to do is get the machine out and drain the fluids.  You will then want to remove both the oil and cleaner tanks individually and perform a thorough cleaning on them and the filters.  Inspect the tanks to make sure there is no sediment or residue from the previous conditioner or cleaner left behind.  It is important to flush and clean these tanks whether you plan to use a new batch of the same conditioner or intend to switch to a new conditioner altogether. 

Once the cleaning is complete and machine is intact, you should turn the machine on and check that oil is flowing freely through the oil lines.  You will be looking for a consistent PSI reading.  If the pressure readings are too high or too low, this indicates that there may be a problem in the oil lines. 

This is also a time of year where many centers will experiment with new oils or patterns.  I always recommend that changes be tested before the season begins.  This allows time for you to decide what is right for your center and make pattern changes or adjustments if necessary.  If your center will be using a new oil, I suggest keeping the same pattern for testing.  Changing only one of these variables will give you a better comparison of the new versus the old oil. 

This should help to ensure that you maximize your machine’s performance and decrease the risk of problems sneaking up on you once your season has begun.  Take care of your machine, and it will take care of you.  And if it doesn’t, give one of us Techs a call US Toll Free at (800) 280 2695, or International +1 (863) 734 0200.

DC Drive Motor Maintenance
by Steve Calhoun

All Kegel lane machines are driven by DCV drive motors that are designed with two carbon style brushes, one on each side of the motor.  As the brushes wear down over time, carbon dust particles build-up inside the head of the motor between the stator (field) and the rotor (armature).  This build-up can cause a short inside the motor.  To prevent a dangerous build-up, it is important to routinely remove the carbon brushes, and blow out the motor with air to remove any carbon build-up. 

Note:  If you use an air compressor, please insure that the air-lines are free of moisture before evacuating the motor.

If the brushes are several years old, they may need to be replaced.  Each brush is manufactured with a tension spring that keeps the brush in constant contact with the rotor of the motor.   The shorter the carbon fiber brush becomes the less tension there is on the rotor.

How to Make Your Batteries Last Longer 

As we all know, batteries are not created equal and they do require maintenance.  It is important that batteries are charged properly and to make sure the source that is using this supplied power is not abused so that they reach their maximum potential.  After reading this, you should be familiar with two causes of decreased battery life and some charging standards for Odyssey batteries. 

One of the biggest problems that can decrease battery life is a machine that has been abused.  When a machine is not kept clean or well maintained, it can cause an overall higher amp draw and result in the battery dropping out faster. 

For example, if the vacuum motor has had waste sucked into it, like the images of abused vacuum motors below, this can greatly affect the battery.  Damage like this could hinder machine performance and easily cause a NEW set of batteries to do 25 lanes less than it should.

Another battery issue that is often overlooked is whether the charger is giving the batteries a proper charge.  This can take into account any portion of the charging mechanism.  The Odyssey batteries require different stages of charging which should be as high as 29 volts within the first 30 minutes of being on charge to as low as 27 volts after being on charge for 6-8 hours. If proper charging does not occur, this will also affect the life of your batteries.

Periodic checking of the charging system along with regular maintenance of your lane machine will greatly extend the life of your batteries.

Contact our techs at their e-mail address, or call US Toll Free at (800) 280 2695, or International +1 (863) 734 0200.