Article Contents

  • 1. Specification changes
    • 1.1. Oil absorption limit
    • 1.2. Dry towel rule
    • 1.3. Expected effect of new specifications
  • 2. “Dead” ball syndrome
    • 2.1. How dirty is dirty?
    • 2.2. What can we do?
  • 3. Ball cleaner choices
    • 3.1. Percent non-volatile content test
    • 3.2. A note about playing “ball cleaner formulator”
  • 4. Deep cleaning
    • 4.1. A deep cleaning example: returning a “dead” ball from the graveyard
  • 5. Summary

Bowling balls are expensive. When they aren’t properly maintained, their performance can diminish quickly, due in part to the accumulation of oil, grease, and dirt in the coverstock.

Maintaining the surface cleanliness of your bowling balls can help them preserve their performance over time. New specifications enacted by the USBC may make ball surface cleanliness an even more important issue going forward for the competitive bowler. I will reference the relevant specification changes below, as well as include some cleaning recommendations for prolonging the lifespan of your high performance bowling ball arsenal.

Specification changes

Recently, the USBC issued new specifications. Two of their new specification changes increase the importance of regular and thorough surface cleaning of your bowling balls.

Oil absorption limit

A limit has been placed on coverstock oil absorption. A test that the USBC claims is reliable has been developed that will be verified by ball manufacturers over the next two years. Presently-manufactured and obsolete bowling balls are grandfathered in and are not subject to this specification. The USBC has stated that all balls presently on the market fall within the new specifications. This should relieve any pressure on manufacturers to abruptly change their manufacturing processes or formulations and allows bowlers to continue using the equipment they presently own. It is my belief that—once this test and specification are fully vetted with ball manufacturers—the USBC will ...

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Ken Kasprzak

About Ken Kasprzak

Ken is a USBC Silver coach and a BJI Top 100 coach. He has been an avid bowler for 57 years, a participant in 50 USBC Open Championships, and a bowling coach for 30 years. Outside of bowling, Ken is a retired scientist in the field of chemistry with 16 US patents and approximately 50 international patents in the field of siloxane chemistry and its applications.