Lane inspector is on the case to make sure oil is just right

January 10, 1993|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

He's a retired U.S. Army intelligence officer originally from Chicago who has been all over the world, from the Middle East to Africa to Vietnam to Poland. He speaks German and Italian fluently.

His name is Ted Hill.

A careful, thoughtful, meticulous man of 68, Hill is the guy who makes sure your local tenpin lanes are up to snuff. He's a certified lane inspector.

Since the American Bowling Congress implemented the system of bowling inspections in June 1991, Hill has been the main man around Baltimore for doing lane inspections.

Under that new system, tenpin houses must be certified once every year, and inspected within 30 days of an honor score. Hill randomly picks his inspection targets.

"They never know I'm coming," he said last week, as he prepared to inspect Fair Lanes Towson.

Most bowlers are vaguely aware that the lanes must pass an inspection. Under the old system, you may have seen the lane inspector come to your bowling alley the night someone shot a big score.

But since June 1991, all inspections are done before the bowling alleys open, so as to not interfere with business. So, chances are, you won't see Hill at work.

Hill, who lives in Randallstown and who has been retired since 1984, said he enjoys inspecting lanes, and doing them early in the morning doesn't affect his schedule.

It's an important job.

For one, if you shoot a 300 game, or other honor score, on uncertified lanes, the ABC will not recognize it. And you won't get your 300 ring or other awards.

"It keeps the integrity of the sport," said Jim Beleele, a staff assistant in the lane inspection department of the ABC. "To know there are guidelines, and to know if those guidelines are being followed. This way, every bowler who walks into a bowling center, from the grandmother who averages 100 to the young guy who averages 220, knows they have a legal condition."

So what does Hill do?

During any inspection, he picks out two individual lanes. He uses a machine to record how much oil is being put on the lane; he

checks the depth of the gutters; and he weighs the pins.

All the measurements must fall within certain tolerances: The pins must weigh between 3.5 and 3.9 pounds; the gutters near the pin deck must be between 3 1/4 and 3 5/8 deep.

The lane must have at least three units of oil from gutter to gutter. A unit of oil is exactly .0167 cubic centimeters of oil per square foot of lane surface, in case you were wondering. "It's about the thickness of a piece of toilet paper," said Beleele.

Hill weighs 11 pins at Towson on his wife's kitchen scale; each comes in at 3.7 pounds, which is OK. He notes the lot number of the manufacturer, just for reference.

The depth of the gutters near the pins is important because if they are too deep, the pins will not bounce around enough; too shallow, and they bounce too much, said Hill. At Towson, the gutters measure out to be 3 5/8 inches deep, within the accepted limits.

To check the oil pattern, Hill lays down a black metal frame across the lane. He pushes a bar across the lane, and a long strip of extra-wide Scotch tape picks up the oil.

He takes three measurements -- at 15 feet, 30 feet and 33 feet. These will be sent to the Greater Baltimore Bowling Association headquarters in Dundalk for analysis.

If Towson has the right amount of oil on the lanes, it will pass the test; if not, they may need to make adjustments in the machine that applies the oil to the lanes, said Hill.

Usually, as in Towson's case, everything checks out just fine.

A 300 at Perry Hall

Larry Thompson, bowling in the Drug Trade League last week at Brunswick Perry Hall, shot his first 300 game, the second game of a 662 series. The other games were 201 and 161. In the same league, Steve Mattes rolled 708 set, with games of 236, 238 and 234.

Wilson claims tourney title

Bob Wilson, 67, was the big winner last weekend at Seidel's Bowling Center, defeating Bill Cardarelli, 64, in the championship round of the weekly Amateur Duckpin Tour. Wilson won $1,000, Cardarelli $500.

To qualify as top seed, Wilson, a 123-average bowler, rolled games of 127, 168 and 125. Cardarelli qualified second with games of 113, 118 and 181.

Other finishers included Ken Taylor Sr., third, $250; Phil Buchta, fourth, $150; and Joe McDonald, fifth, $100.

Shipe wins New Year's Open

At the 10th annual Fair Lanes New Year's Open, the top bowler was Glen Shipe, of Owings Mills, who averaged 238 over PTC six games (231, 279, 236, 269, 183 and 235.) He won $1,500. Joe Hock Jr., of Glen Burnie, won $750 for second. Roy Harris of Baltimore got $500 for third.

During the tournament, Ed Lanehart of Ellicott City and Mike

Tanner of Baltimore shot 300 games.


If you know an interesting bowler, or have a good bowling story to tell, please call Glenn Small at (410) 296-0080, or write to him care of The Sun, 401 Washington Ave., Towson, 21204. You also can fax letters or scores to (410) 823-1439. Please enclose a name and phone number for verification.

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