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RoadRunner

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Reply with quote  #1 
I've always been curious about PBA oil conditions in the 70s and 80s. How did they differ from "house" conditions of the day? (I know house patterns were much more strict back then, but I would think pro conditions were even more strict than that...) Did the PBA have a set list of patterns like they do today? 
websurferdude

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Reply with quote  #2 
There was actually a time in the 70s that ABC didn't sanction PBA tournaments because ABC insisted on flat oil and the PBA didn't.

The "catalog" of standard patterns has existed for only the last ten years or so. They used to design a new pattern every week based on the characteristics of the house.

Until the early 70s, the PBA didn't have their own lane staff. House equipment and personnel were used to put out the shot that the PBA tournament director wanted. Then, one week, a proprietor decided that he knew better than the PBA tournament director, and he dictated the shot. He told the PBA that if he couldn't put out "his" shot, he would throw the pros out of the building and cancel the tournament. Because the PBA had a contractual obligation to ABC (American Broadcasting Company, not American Bowling Congress) to put on a TV show on Saturday afternoon, they were forced to concede. The proprietor then put out a shot that resulted on 15 lefties and one righty making the top 16. (Nelson Burton was the one righty; he considers it to be one of his greatest accomplishments.) The following season, the PBA bought their own equipment and hired their own staff.
Leonten

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Reply with quote  #3 
Len Nicholsen (PBA's lane man) once told me he used a spray bottle to oil the lanes in the beginning. For many years the ABC had a "crown" pattern until reactive resign balls came out. The crown meant that the 2 board had more oil than the 1 board. The 3 board had more oil than the 2 board. The 4 board had more oil than the 3 board......all the way to the 20 board. In the ABC rule book they showed a picture of what the oil pattern looked like. The 20 board had the most oil then it tapered down to the 1 board. The picture wasn't from above, it was an eye level drawing. Today they (USBC) only require a minimum of 10 units of oil on each board, no maximum.

I bowled on the PBA patterns in the 80's, they put down a lot more oil. There was no dry area to bowl on until the bowlers created it. And it could take a few games to dry out a board. We had a regional at our house for 25 years, we couldn't play the normal shot (10 board) we had to move out to the 5, 4, 3 or 2 board to get any movement on the ball.  There was just too much oil inside of 6 board. I can't say if the pattern was flat 6 board to 6 board, it was a lot more oil than outside of 6 board. I also don't know how long the pattern was. It seemed like the ball went down at least 45 feet before you could get it to move at all.

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Bucketofslawski

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Reply with quote  #4 
My understanding is that the PBA bowled on house conditions until the 1971 Winter Tour. Sam Baca was the first Director of Lane Maintenance for the PBA and one of his early hires was Len Nicholson, who would do most of the actual work. The primary concern was to even out some of the blatant lefty/righty conditions they sometimes ran into.  In the early 1970s Nicholson was learning as he went along, since there was no "book" to follow. He had to learn the quirks of different oiling machines, and figure out ways to make the oil hold up for three full squads (no oiling between squads). He experimented with adding STP to the lane oil, and with the use of a spray gun to apply oil to specific portions of the lane with greater precision than the lane machines of that era.

Len Nicholson got the nickname "The Phantom" because he did his work when nobody else was around, although he would sometimes drop by to peek at how the lanes were playing. He now hosts an audio webcast called "Phantom Radio", and there is an extensive library of interviews he has conducted. Jeff Richgels was allowed to conduct a series of interviews of the The Phantom himself, which grew into 9 or 10 interviews, where Nicholson recounts his days as the PBA lane man.

http://kegel.net/phantom/radio/old/2011/07-27-11.mp3

http://kegel.net/phantom/radio/old/2011/08-31-11.mp3

http://kegel.net/phantom/radio/old/2011/09-28-11.mp3

http://kegel.net/phantom/radio/old/2011/10-26-11.mp3

http://kegel.net/phantom/radio/old/2011/11-30-11.mp3

http://kegel.net/phantom/radio/old/2012/01-18-12.mp3

http://kegel.net/phantom/radio/old/2012/02-29-12.mp3

http://kegel.net/phantom/radio/old/2012/05-02-12.mp3

http://kegel.net/phantom/radio/old/2012/06-06-12.mp3

http://kegel.net/phantom/radio/old/2012/07-18-12.mp3

http://kegel.net/phantom/radio/old/2012/08-22-12.mp3

Pullmyfinger

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leonten
Len Nicholsen (PBA's lane man) once told me he used a spray bottle to oil the lanes in the beginning. For many years the ABC had a "crown" pattern until reactive resign balls came out. The crown meant that the 2 board had more oil than the 1 board. The 3 board had more oil than the 2 board. The 4 board had more oil than the 3 board......all the way to the 20 board. In the ABC rule book they showed a picture of what the oil pattern looked like. The 20 board had the most oil then it tapered down to the 1 board. The picture wasn't from above, it was an eye level drawing. Today they (USBC) only require a minimum of 10 units of oil on each board, no maximum.

I bowled on the PBA patterns in the 80's, they put down a lot more oil. There was no dry area to bowl on until the bowlers created it. And it could take a few games to dry out a board. We had a regional at our house for 25 years, we couldn't play the normal shot (10 board) we had to move out to the 5, 4, 3 or 2 board to get any movement on the ball.  There was just too much oil inside of 6 board. I can't say if the pattern was flat 6 board to 6 board, it was a lot more oil than outside of 6 board. I also don't know how long the pattern was. It seemed like the ball went down at least 45 feet before you could get it to move at all.


You're right about the heavy oil they used. I remember bowling in a few pro-am's when I was younger and really had a hard time getting my old Black Angle to wrinkle. That's when I learned how good the pros really were. They made it look so easy. I always made sure after that first time to really dull up my equipment before bowling in them again. 
Leonten

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Reply with quote  #6 
Bucketofslawski,

Great post!!!!! I remember listening to The phantom many years ago, Thanks

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SpareWhiffer

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Reply with quote  #7 
This is a little early in the time frame we're talking about, but the first PBA tournament I bowled in was at Hartfield Lanes in Berkley, MI., in about 1973.  It was Dale Eagle Glenn's first win, so the date is available somewhere.
I got there real early and saw a 'lane guy' out on one of the lanes, with an approach mop, about 15 feet from the pins. I oiled the lanes in the center I worked...and had never seen, nor had any idea, and still don't know, why the guy had an approach mop out on the lanes...but...when he lifted the thing up in the air, and oil just cascaded of the thing like a waterfall, I knew I was dead.
I had never seen anything even remotely resembling that much oil on a bowling lane.  I think everyone was still using plastic balls...I know I was, because both my bowling balls were rejected because they had been plugged.  I made an emergency call to my sponsor, Bill Tucker, who had to rush me down a brand new (no track on it!) yellow dot.  (My shoes also were rejected because they had scuff marks on them, so Tucker brought me some shoes that were in the pro shop...about a size-and-a-half too big, but anyway...)
I was a big hooker in those days.  Always, always started my approach up against the ball return rack on the right lane, and farther left on the left lane.  Right...I tried that my first shot in practice, and the ball touched down and immediately zinged into the right hand gutter.  I spent the 18 games of qualifying trying to have the ball NOT back-up, while some of the real pros were hooking the whole lane.  It was bizarre.  I've never again bowled on or seen such oily lanes.
No one ever mentioned 'patterns' at that time, as far as I know.  I don't think they existed.

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RoadRunner

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Reply with quote  #8 
That's a great series of interviews Bucket provided links to. For anyone interested in the topic, if you haven't already listened to them, you should dig in. I'm only through the fourth interview, and have learned a ton already. 
Dan400Man

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Reply with quote  #9 
SpareWhiffer, I started working at Hartfields in 1975, and remember vividly "The Eagle" winning, especially with his "landing" on the ball return.  I was amazed that I found this link a few minutes ago: 


(I'm the "kid" in the orange shirt at the 0:50 mark.)

Although I don't remember the oil mop dripping like you said it did, I do remember they put a lot more oil down for the tournament than Hartfields ever did.  (I'm sure the pit guys were going through a lot of rags to keep the ball wheels dry.)  The reason why you were amazed that all the pros could turn the ball on those conditions was because metro Detroit, at the time, was dry, Dry, DRY.  When I started bowling in Saginaw in 1978, holy cow, I learned quickly to slow my game.  I'd never seen so much oil in my 13 years of bowling in metro Detroit prior to that.  I remember bowling in the Bonanza traveling league on Sundays and some of the houses were absolutely pathetic with ZERO oil.  I remember the days of pitching my ball into the pine at Fairlanes in Madison Heights, and probably a few other places as well.
Fordman

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Reply with quote  #10 
An would you believe that the lanes were set up for the lefties to win a few tournaments.  It was called the west coast swing. 
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mrbowling300

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Reply with quote  #11 
There was the year of the lefty....The year Larry Lichstein won his only title.
mrbowling300

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Reply with quote  #12 
Dan400Man,
Thanks for posting, I saw this on youtube just the other day from Hartfield Lanes.  My first league was at Hartfield Lanes when I was 8 years old, in 1974.  I bowled there all the way through high school, and I even worked at the snack shop.  I remember when this tournament took place.  Prior to the start, me and my buddy were open bowling there, and I remember seeing Earl Anthony downstairs in the lower 16.  I was in awe.  Of course, I was too nervous and scared to go up to him and say hello, and that he was my favorite.  Did you bowl at Hartfield Lanes?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan400Man
SpareWhiffer, I started working at Hartfields in 1975, and remember vividly "The Eagle" winning, especially with his "landing" on the ball return.  I was amazed that I found this link a few minutes ago: 


(I'm the "kid" in the orange shirt at the 0:50 mark.)

Although I don't remember the oil mop dripping like you said it did, I do remember they put a lot more oil down for the tournament than Hartfields ever did.  (I'm sure the pit guys were going through a lot of rags to keep the ball wheels dry.)  The reason why you were amazed that all the pros could turn the ball on those conditions was because metro Detroit, at the time, was dry, Dry, DRY.  When I started bowling in Saginaw in 1978, holy cow, I learned quickly to slow my game.  I'd never seen so much oil in my 13 years of bowling in metro Detroit prior to that.  I remember bowling in the Bonanza traveling league on Sundays and some of the houses were absolutely pathetic with ZERO oil.  I remember the days of pitching my ball into the pine at Fairlanes in Madison Heights, and probably a few other places as well.
Buckeye_Nut

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Reply with quote  #13 
Bowling on HBO in '75? 
mrbowling300

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Reply with quote  #14 
HBO used to televise the PBA summer tour during the early 70s till about the time ESPN was born.
Crankenstein300

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Reply with quote  #15 

I see they have their own HBO Archives YouTube channel now. I remember awhile back that they were looking for copies of their old HBO bowling broadcasts. I wonder if they found many of them?

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