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.