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How To Bring Dead Bowling Balls Back To Life, Originally Posted: 9/15/2011; Updated: 9/6/2023

If you wish to learn how to bring dead bowling balls back to life, then kindly read excerpts from a magazine article provided below by Storm Products, Inc. first publicly presented in 2010. Storm has been a leading brand in the bowling industry for many years and continues to provide top performance lines of bowling balls. If you own Storm equipment, or any equipment for that matter, it is very important to be able to understand how to bring dead bowling balls back to life so you may protect your investment in the equipment and enjoy the ball motion you have come to expect from the given bowling ball.

To avoid the "dead ball syndrome" you encounter after many lines of bowling, get into the habit of resurfacing your equipment. Please be aware that all resurfacing techniques do not and will not provide the precise surface texture you seek and restore the ball motion you are targeting. Read the information provided by Storm below which begins by describing what happens when a ball is prepared in the factory and made ready for use:

"The process of rounding a ball is simply a matter of lathing the urethane into a uniform sphere. This process is achieved by rotating the ball rapidly on a lathe while a very sharp and precisely calibrated blade cuts the ball into a uniform shape; the cut is relatively smooth and has perfectly rounded the ball to a few thousandths of an inch.

Next, the ball is resurfaced for a few minutes with a rough grit to remove any lathe marks, and then finished with the appropriate grit. To the naked eye, all is well; the ball is round, the surface is smooth, and the reaction is great. However, on a microscopic level only viewable in millionths of an inch, this smooth surface more closely resembles the jagged and ridged structure of a mountain range.

In truth, the surface of the ball is very porous with steep valleys, ridges, peaks, and craters that have been created by the chemical nature of the reactive urethane as it cures. The effect is multiplied by the lathe and finishing process. This surface is like the treads on a tire: the greater the topography or deviations of the cover, the greater the ball’s ability is to generate friction in oil. Similarly, when these surface deviations wear, the ball acts like bald tires on water.

Rather than displacing oil, allowing the ball to read the pattern, it hydroplanes, creating less traction in the oil. At this point, the ball is now “dead” since it no longer has the ability to navigate the pattern or generate the same amount of friction it once did in the back-ends. Luckily, the odds are this ball is not actually dead, but rather playing possum, waiting for the right opportunity to spring back to life.

This can be achieved through simple resurfacing, but not through conventional methods. For example, if the ball has an out-of-box finish of 4000-grit Abralon®, the normal routine used for restoring the factory finish is as follows: 360-grit to cut the surface; 500-grit to remove the 360-grit cut marks; 1000-grit to remove the 500-grit cut marks; and so on, until the ball is shiny, bright, and perfectly smooth with a “4000” finish.

This ball looks great now, but in truth, with each sequentially higher grit used, we remove and lessen the deep valleys, ridges, peaks, and craters that once gave the ball life. Now, this freshly resurfaced ball is more cosmetically appealing, but it is still not the same as it was from the factory.

So what is the trick to resurfacing the ball so that it works as it was originally intended? The trick is simple but it runs counter to accepted woodworking and carpentry practices. Rather than going through each grit sequentially from lowest to highest, we need to skip the intermediate steps. For example, a factory finish of 4000-grit Abralon® can be achieved by using 500-grit Abralon® to deeply cut the surface of the ball, exposing fresh cover stock, removing lane damage and recreating the same topography originally made during the manufacturing process. Next, skip the 1000-grit and 2000-grit processes and go directly to 4000-grit.

This procedure has the effect of creating a strong surface topography with numerous peaks and valleys that generate friction on the back-ends. However, the 4000-grit finish rounds the sharp edges and points that can cause the ball to read the lane too early; this allows the ball to skid in the heaviest oil (the heads), still read the buff and lighter volume (the mid-lanes) but still generate massive amounts of friction in the dry (back-ends). Hence, the ball now has the perfect amount of skid, hook, and roll to generate the right amount of movement in the right places.

Now that we know the trick is skipping some of the intermediate grits, we should be able to restore the reaction from the original out-of-box finish and revive a once thought to be dead ball. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that this finish method can be used to change the reaction of any ball.

Here are a few useful combinations:

500-grit: This reaction causes the ball to read extremely early. This usually only works well on extremely heavy patterns or very direct angles by speed dominate players.

360, 1000-grit: This reaction gives the ball more length than 500 alone, but still has a significant ability to generate friction in heavier oil. This works well on heavy patterns with fresh back-ends.

500, 2000-grit: This reaction is a very good benchmark reaction as the ball has enough topography to still generate friction in medium to light oil, but not enough to cause the ball to read too early in most cases. This finish delays the hook transition, allowing for a strong entry angle.

500, 4000-grit: This reaction works extremely well on multiple patterns, giving the ball easy length through the heads, a subtle but noticeable mid-lane reaction, and an enormous amount of friction at the end of the pattern. This finish can generate some of the strongest entry angles possible on fresh patterns, but may start to skid too far as the pattern carries down lane.

All of the available Abralon grits are listed below:
180 Grit
360 Grit
500 Grit
1000 Grit
2000 Grit
3000 Grit
4000 Grit

All of the available Siaair grits are listed below:
240 Grit
360 Grit
500 Grit
800 Grit
1000 Grit
1500 Grit
2000 Grit
4000 Grit

Of course, there are multiple methods, resurfacing mediums, and grits available on the market, all of which will yield slightly different results causing a ball to read earlier or later, with more or less on the back-ends. As a final recommendation, whenever making surface adjustments, our research has shown that the lowest grit should be applied with more pressure, but for a shorter duration. The higher grits should be applied with less pressure, but for a longer time. This will have the desired effect of creating strong surface deviations to displace oil, but will also round the edges, peaks, and valleys enough to get the desired amount of skid."
Knowing more about ball surface restoration strategies such as the above mentioned techniques provided by Storm will help you communicate with your pro shop professional with the goal of keeping your equipment surfaces prepared to match best to the lane oil conditions you frequently encounter in competition.

Another effective way to bring bowling balls back to life is to "revive" them but using a heated oil extraction machine, like the Pyramid Phoenix Personal Ball Revivor. This machine allows you to heat your bowling ball to a safe temperature to "pull" the oil from the coverstock to restore some "tack" back to your ball.

When you are ready to consider your next bowling ball purchase, please browse our site and use the Perfect Scale® rating feature which provides comparisons of the latest bowling balls in today’s market against our sophisticated rating scale system. The Perfect Scale® can be easily accessed from our home page by clicking on the button and then browsing the information provided at the Perfect Scale®. Our goal is to simply make it easier for you to compare products and feel confident in your purchase selection process. has become the No. 1 “e-tailer” of choice for bowling equipment by the consumers of America. Ordering is an easy process by following simple online instructions 24 hours a day, every day of the year! Thanks for visiting

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