Article History Of Oil

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Background - the numbers below reflect values from the PBA National Tour and were provided by Len Nicholson and John Davis. The primary ingredient of lane conditioners is mineral oil, a by-product of petroleum distillation.

1970 - approximately 4 milliliters (ml) of conditioner was applied to each lane. In 1970 the conditioners contained 10% mineral oil and 90% solvent. The solvent helped disperse the mineral oil evenly across the surface of the lane and would then evaporate. So in terms of the amount of actual "oil" placed on the lane in 1970, it was .4 ml.

1971 - approximately 6 ml of conditioner was applied per lane, with the percentage of mineral oil increasing to 20%. Effective amount of oil per lane was 1.2 ml, or 3X the amount of oil used in 1970.

In 1971 the average number of games bowled per lane during a PBA event's qualifying rounds between re-oiling was forty-eight (48).

1973 - "soakers" were first used in '73 and STP was added to the conditioner to help increase viscosity. The ratios were 19 parts mineral oil, 79 parts solvent, and 2 parts STP.

1975 - the Shure D and Yellow Dots were introduced, and the percentage of STP being added to the oil almost doubled to 3.5%.

1978 - the LT48 was launched and oil volumes took a dramatic increase. The percentage of mineral oil increased 50% and the amount of STP being added climbed to 5%. Compared to 1970, the depth of the oil was 450% greater, and because of the STP, the oil was thicker and more slippery.

Up to this point in PBA history, the distribution of oil was fairly even from front to back.

1980 - the introduction of urethane caused a dramatic shift in the volume and distribution of oil applied to the lanes. Total volume per lane increased to approximately 10 ml. and solvents and STP were removed. New "slick agents" were introduced. 1980 oils typically contained 1-2 additives. Effective increase in the volume of oil on each lane compared to 1970 - 2,500%!!! Not only is there 25X as much oil on a lane, the majority of it is loaded into the front part of the lane.

1990 - volumes have now climbed to 15 ml per lane and oils contain 4-5 additives.

2000 - volumes average 22 ml per lane and oils now contain 7-8 additives and slick agents.

2010 - volumes are as high as 28 ml per lane and oils contain 10-12 additives and slick agents. Not even considering the "slickness" and "viscosity" of today's oil, the volumes are 70X what they were in 1970.


From Gary Beck head of the Teen Masters bowling tournament