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Author Topic: The difference in urethane classics of the 80's  (Read 24828 times)

JPbowling151

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The difference in urethane classics of the 80's
« on: August 07, 2013, 03:37:35 PM »
To my understanding the majority of the early urethane bowling balls of the 1980's utilized 3- piece pancake weight blocks with the exception to the Faball Hammer line of balls which used a 2-piece grenade looking weight block.

My question here is what was the major difference between high end urethane balls other than the manufacturer or color? For example, the AMF Black Angle vs Columbia 300 Black U Dot, or Brunswick Black Rhino?

On a side note if 2 piece balls hit and reacted that much better than 3 piece balls, why didn't all the other manufacturers follow Faball's lead sooner?

Thanks!
"Yeah...Well that's just like...your opinion, man." - The Dude

 

avabob

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Re: The difference in urethane classics of the 80's
« Reply #16 on: August 09, 2013, 05:20:26 PM »
There were lots of tricks to get around the limited distance dressing rule.  One was to flood the heads 10 to 10, and not strip for a week or two allowing the hold area to build up.  It is correct that the 24 foot rule only applied if you wanted to wall the lanes.  However, the other option was to apply even oil gutter to gutter if you wanted to go past 24 feet.  Not a popular option. 

The ironic thing about the short oil rule was that while its intent was to minimize the effect of lane blocking to increase scoring, lane men were already going shorter and shorter in many areas as a way to try to boost scoring and eliminate adverse affects of carrydown on the hard urethane lane finishes.  The ABC people were way behind the curve on what was going on in the game in the late 70's and early 80's.  The were still operating under the idea of oil being used to steer the ball into the pocket on errant shots pulled inside the track.  In fact the young guns had discovered that with soft balls on hard surfaces the way to play the shot was to open up as much swing area as possible.  Short oil was a license to steal for the young crankers of that era.  The strokers and tweeners were the only guys getting hurt with short oil. 

LookingForALeftyWall

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Re: The difference in urethane classics of the 80's
« Reply #17 on: August 10, 2013, 06:55:38 AM »
I had a Black Angle, a used Black Hammer, and a Black U-Dot back then.  The U-Dot was the best of the bunch - so good that I still use it today!

I hated the Black Hammer so much.  It never hooked for me and hit like crap.  I vowed to never throw another Hammer again.  Anyway, I stopped bowling for a long time and when I started up again, learned a lot about cores and drillings.  Because the Hammer was a used ball and laid out aggressively for a righty, I realized that the layout was about the worst layout the ball could have had for a lefty to throw it...LESSON LEARNED..albeit 20 years later.

avabob

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Re: The difference in urethane classics of the 80's
« Reply #18 on: August 10, 2013, 10:44:28 AM »
The problem with many Black Hammers was that tracked out very quickly and were so soft that the track often became flat on them.  Many of the early urethanes derived their power totally from the aggressive surface prep.  Most people don't realize it, but urethane, like resin enhanced urethane, also absorbed oil.  I had one black hammer that I shot a 300 game out of the box, but 2 weeks later could barely get the 5 pin out playing the corner.  There was also a difference in balls from batch to batch.  The first blue hammer I owned retained its powder blue tint for a year.  2 subsequent blue hammers turned a darker greenish blue in no time due to oil absorption.   

The combination of oil absorption and surface wear made it difficult to restore the factory aggressiveness when a ball became tracked.  Also we tend to forget how much we threw our main ball in those days.  We typically didn't carry more than 2 or 3 balls at most to tourneys, and usually didn't carry a spare ball.   That tended to put a lot of deliveries on the surface much quicker than would be the case today where we often own at least 6 balls, and throw plastic or urethane at spares.   

Strapper_Squared

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Re: The difference in urethane classics of the 80's
« Reply #19 on: August 11, 2013, 09:36:15 AM »
I thought the biggest issue with the Black Hammers was the odor when drilling and/or on the spinner!  WOW!
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avabob

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Re: The difference in urethane classics of the 80's
« Reply #20 on: August 11, 2013, 11:20:19 AM »
Forgot about that, because I was never a ball driller, but now that you mention it, they really stunk when being drilled. 

Gold Angle Blue Angle Gray Angle all followed the original.  Different shells with the same core.  Gray Angle was possibly the best of the bunch, but the timing was bad.  It was released a year or two before short oil was mandated.  Great short oil ball, but most guys didn't like it on the longer patterns and got rid of them. 

I believe the ultra angle was a two piece.  It had to have differential to get flare.

JPbowling151

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Re: The difference in urethane classics of the 80's
« Reply #21 on: August 11, 2013, 12:21:29 PM »
I thought the biggest issue with the Black Hammers was the odor when drilling and/or on the spinner!  WOW!

This ball was before my time but I've read that the original urethane formula for the Black Hammer gave off a kerosene like scent. Still wish the original Blue & Burgundy was still around.
"Yeah...Well that's just like...your opinion, man." - The Dude

Armourboy

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Re: The difference in urethane classics of the 80's
« Reply #22 on: August 11, 2013, 04:19:26 PM »
Part of me wishes there was a reset cause it makes me sad that I missed out when all of this stuff was being used. Had to be an interesting time in bowling.

avabob

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Re: The difference in urethane classics of the 80's
« Reply #23 on: August 11, 2013, 09:37:54 PM »
This is one old codger that didn't miss the urethane era.  The 80's were tweener hell, although it was the short oil as much or more than the urethane balls that did us in.  I never won a local scratch tourney during the entire short oil era.  The year the 3 unit rule came in to replace it, I started winning again. 

Armourboy

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Re: The difference in urethane classics of the 80's
« Reply #24 on: August 11, 2013, 09:41:17 PM »
This is one old codger that didn't miss the urethane era.  The 80's were tweener hell, although it was the short oil as much or more than the urethane balls that did us in.  I never won a local scratch tourney during the entire short oil era.  The year the 3 unit rule came in to replace it, I started winning again.

Well I should clarify with a ball reset. I have zero clue about the lane conditions used back then or the rules around them although it is an interesting topic. Might be one of my next topics I bring up :)
« Last Edit: August 11, 2013, 09:43:04 PM by Armourboy »

avabob

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Re: The difference in urethane classics of the 80's
« Reply #25 on: August 12, 2013, 10:59:59 AM »
I should add that, ironically, today I always carry a urethane ball for specific conditions and have made quite a bit of money with the ball when it works.  Like I said, it wasn't the urethane balls so much as the short oil era when all we had was urethane that really did me in.  Also if had learned the urethane release in the 80's rather than 10 years later it would have made a big difference.  Hitting up on the ball stopped working when urethane replaced polyester, but it took me a long time to figure it out. 

itsallaboutme

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Re: The difference in urethane classics of the 80's
« Reply #26 on: August 12, 2013, 02:42:07 PM »
Somebody forgot to tell all the best bowlers of the 80's that hitting up on urethane didn't work.

MI 2 AZ

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Re: The difference in urethane classics of the 80's
« Reply #27 on: August 13, 2013, 02:21:52 AM »
I found an article on urethanes hiding in my computer and it may contain some info that the OP was asking about so here it is:


                      Just Paying Attention    By Mark London

    What about this Black Hammer ball and what makes it so special. This ball would either be first of second on everyone's list, simply because it pioneered a new design feature. Besides being the first $100 retail priced ball, it also had a kerosene smell. This was the first center-heavy ball on the market. Applying more physics principles, this ball was the first to tinker with the untouched inner workings to help produce a desired reaction. Balls to this point were all cover heavy or neutral at best. What was also unique were two markings, a center of gravity and a riser pin. The center of the bullseye marked the CG, but the riser pin was more difficult to find. In the first few batches, the pin was right on top of the bullseye. Then we heard a few of the balls would not work for lefthanders. Bowling 'urban legend' says one of the pins holding a ball along the assembly line fell, bending the stem. This put the riser pin in successive balls from this mold in a 1:30 direction from the CG, essentially placing the riser pin under the ring finger of a right-handed bowler. What was discovered by an attentive ball driller was to put the riser pin under the left-handers ring finger and ta-da: it rolled just as good for southpaws. Second on this ball was the urethane cover. It was very porous, especially in its out-of the-box chalkboard look. The only problem was after about 200 games, it was done. Resurfacing this ball was easy, it did not take very long and looked brand new. Unfortunately, the ball still reacted like it did before the resurfacing. The urethane was so porous, but yet those pores seemed to get compressed with more use, not allowing out-of-the-box traction. The second ball, the Red Hammer, although it hooked more, had a simliar urethane composition. That was corrected with the following Hammer balls.

     So what happened to Columbia? After urethane was introduced in '81, they did tried various balls with different polyester compositions without a real breakthrough like the Yellow Dot ball. Then came the 1986 introduction of the Black U-Dot. Their first urethane ball had its drier lane companion, the Wine U-Dot, but the Black U-Dot was the ball every style could handle with ease. Crankers, tweeners, and straighter players loved this ball as Columbia got back a lot of their bowlers who loved the Yellow Dot from a decade before. Pete McCordic and Bob Benoit rolled their TV 300 games using this ball. AMF had also supplemented their Angle line with a newer ball that did something no one ever thought was really good. The Ultra Angle's core allowed it to roll over a fresh part of its cover each full revolution down the lane. Most who saw this were skeptical at first and many drillers tried to drill the characteristic out of the ball. They may have reduced it, but not eliminated it completely. Track flare helped the ball hook more and helped the tweeners and straighter players compete with the crankers, who were running away and hiding from most of the competition. This, like the Yellow Dot, was another ball ahead of its time. Brunswick was not left out at this point, either. Assisted by a print and TV commercial campaign and by signing Mark Roth away from Columbia, the Rhino series of balls helped put the big "B" back on the ball map with a slightly different reactions for each cover color.

     Meanwhile back at Hammer, another one of the great balls for every style was the dull Blue Hammer. It offered the same core design, but a stronger cover compared to the Black and Red models. Whether your preference was for polished, dull, label drill, or off-label drilling, finding one who did not like this ball was hard to find. It was one of the first center-heavy balls that rolled great from extreme inside angles, crankers loved that. You could also play outside and still get the ball to finish, tweeners loved that. On short oil patterns of that time, the pearl versions, either Blue Pearl or Red Pearl were popular as well, with the Red Pearl usually the first choice. In any case, same Hammer label, same Hammer hitting power.

     The last great urethane ball was Ebonite's Nitro. Ebonite did alright with its first urethane ball the Firebolt, but had designed a new cover material which was advertised to have a wider footprint on the lane. They also put together one of the first traveling seminar shows to advertise its prowse, as well as answer general pro shop questions. This ball did not disappoint either. Sales did not hurt as Walter Ray Williams, Jr. used the ball on many of his telecast appearances, which were becoming more frequent like Roth had in the late 70's.

     By the late 80's, as more and more balls were being released in a much tighter time frame than before (four years the ball marketing lifespan for a given ball at this point), some felt market saturation was being reached. Regular ball purchasers were given the monicker, "Ball of the Month Club" members. Technology then was progressing faster than before, but keep in mind, not nearly as fast as it is today. The next big step was a new urethane cover than blew everyone away, including a small ball company.

     The Nu Line Xcalibur looked from a distance like a Yellow Dot, but as we soon found out, reacted like anything but a Yellow Dot. The ball seemed to skid forever, then make a left turn no one had even seen before without a different release. If you are old enough to remember seeing Star Wars in the theater for the first time; yeah, that feeling. Once Marc McDowell threw it during his 1992 AC Delco Tourney win, the reactive resin era had begun. Pro shops all over America received calls during the show about this ball that few knew about. Nu Line was over whelmed with orders in the following weeks, it couldn't keep up. The handmade balls were soon gone, and Nu-Line contracted Columbia to manufacture the ball. At the same time, Brunswick had broken down the cover formula and was set to come out with one of its own. The Purple Rhino Pro was a great seller and performer in its own right and appeared on TV finals almost every week. TV finalists were standing further to the left creating angles at the back end of the lane unlike any ever seen to date. One other thing we did notice were weaker releases began to work with these balls as lanes got drier. We could roll them faster and still get wild pin action. If we slightly sanded the cover, we could tone down the snap for the cranker style, allow him to manage his roll better. What's up with that?

     And so this chapter ends. There, of course, are couple more balls on the list. But with more ball introductions in less time these days, those really great balls aren't around as long anymore. At this moment in 2006, the trend is stronger reactive resin covers on asymmetrical cores. Next year who knows? It will probably be different again, like it was in 1996, and before that in 1986, and before that in 1976.

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Walking E

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Re: The difference in urethane classics of the 80's
« Reply #28 on: August 13, 2013, 02:22:48 AM »
I had a Black Angle, a used Black Hammer, and a Black U-Dot back then.  The U-Dot was the best of the bunch - so good that I still use it today!

I hated the Black Hammer so much.  It never hooked for me and hit like crap.  I vowed to never throw another Hammer again.  Anyway, I stopped bowling for a long time and when I started up again, learned a lot about cores and drillings.  Because the Hammer was a used ball and laid out aggressively for a righty, I realized that the layout was about the worst layout the ball could have had for a lefty to throw it...LESSON LEARNED..albeit 20 years later.

I hated my first few Black Hammers because they simply weren't drilled in a way that worked for my game. The ones drilled over the label tumbled too much for me and gave me over-under hell. Once I switched to axis-weighted drillings on my Hammers they became great balls for me! Same ball, but a different layout made all the difference, even back then!

nord

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Re: The difference in urethane classics of the 80's
« Reply #29 on: July 26, 2015, 09:06:41 PM »
What about the AMF Angle Plus?
Does anyone remember how it performed compared to other urethane balls of that time?

Quote
JPbowling151 said:
I've read that the original urethane formula for the Black Hammer gave off a kerosene like scent.


Genesis Bowling has released a new urethane ball called "The Judge."
It is the Black Hammer.
I have one.
It is a two piece that uses the Black Hammer core and coverstock and smells like kerosene!

It hits super hard on the right conditions.

I am a very low rev low ball speed full roller and on a light house shot, if my aim is on, The Judge hits harder than any ball I have ever used.

You can check out the reaction I am getting with it here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCn0z6SAQGE

Impending Doom

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Re: The difference in urethane classics of the 80's
« Reply #30 on: July 27, 2015, 12:23:15 AM »
I've known Mark London for over 20 years. Very knowledgeable and is a good guy. Works for Mike Austin.