Switching Lane Conditioners: Out with the old, in with the new!

Bowl Expo has come and gone once again. That means that summer is in full swing and league season will be upon us before you know it. As such, you may be thinking about trying a new lane conditioner, like Fire or Ice, before league season starts. These conditioners were released last year and they have been gaining attention because of their performance in tournaments and championships worldwide. Now is the perfect time to try one and get your pattern adjusted to be ready for fall.

Changing lane conditioners can be an overwhelming process. In fact, just the thought of it may send shivers down your spine. After all, if your bowlers have been happy, why change it and risk upsetting the balance? Well, technology has come a long way. We’ve worked hard developing conditioners that will help you protect your lane surface while providing a durable lane condition for your bowlers. And, we’ve improved the durability while allowing you to use less conditioner which saves you money.

Once you’ve decided to make the leap (and decided which conditioner to use – we’ll have more on that later), you’ll need to spend some time cleaning your lane machine. While it may seem easy to just empty the conditioner tank and pour in the new conditioner, you won’t be doing yourself any favors by doing this. Cross contamination from one conditioner to another in the same tank can wreak havoc on your lane pattern and make your lanes inconsistent. And that just leads to unhappy bowlers. No one wants that!

Additionally, some lane conditioners just don’t mix well with others.* This can cause things like clogged tubing, pencil tips, or even oil control valves. You can avoid a lot of headaches by taking some extra steps early on.

*The FLEX Lane Machine boasts the ability for centers to use two compatible conditioners simultaneously. Currently, Fire and Ice are the only compatible conditioners that can be used in this manner.  Mixing other conditioners, such as Prodigy or Infinity, with Fire or Ice is not recommended.

Changing conditioners in the machine is a tedious process, but it is a process that is well worth it. Here is a brief overview of the process for Sanction Technology™ lane machines:

  1. Remove the conditioner tank from the lane machine. Empty the contents of the tank into a waste container.
  2. Use some lane cleaner to clean the conditioner tank. Add some of your lane cleaner solution directly to the tank. Swirl or shake the cleaner to get it all over the inside of the tank. 
  3. Rinse the tank with water. You’ll want to shake and swirl to be sure the tank gets completely clean. Continue rinsing until the water is clear (it will probably look milky at first) and there is no foam.
  4. Rinse the tank with some acetone (if available) and let the tank dry. It is best to let the tank dry overnight, but give it as much time as possible. The tank needs to be completely dry before you add new conditioner.
  5. Use this time to wipe down and perform any maintenance to the transfer system. This is also a good time to perform some cleaning and/or maintenance to the buffer brush.
  6. Place the conditioner tank back in the machine.
  7. Now you’re ready to fill the conditioner tank and flush the machine. We’ve detailed the entire process here: Changing Out Conditioners - Sanction Technology

So, I’m ready to fill my machine and flush the lines, but I don’t know which conditioner to use. Don’t worry; we’re here to help!

Fire and Ice have similar properties chemically but they yield different results on the lane. Both conditioners are pinsetter and house ball friendly meaning that you’ll have fewer issues in the backend. Both conditioners also have improved durability even with reduced volume.

There are a few factors that can help you decide which would be best for you. What conditioner do you use now? What is your lane surface? Do you have more open play or do you have heavy league and tournament lineage? Answering all of these will help narrow down which option will be best for your situation. Every center is unique, so as always, our Tech Support Team is available to guide you. You can also use the comparison chart below to help in your decision.

Click Here to View the Complete Lane Conditioner Comparison Chart

Now that you’ve got your new conditioner into your machine and ready to go, we always recommend running your normal pattern and watching ball reaction before adjusting anything. This way you’ll have an apples-to-apples comparison from conditioner to conditioner. It is highly likely, based on our experience with Fire and Ice, that pattern adjustments will be necessary.

To reap the benefits of these conditioners, your pattern should have good front to back taper. If you’re pattern doesn’t have good taper, our Tech Support Team can help you make some adjustments to maximize the performance of these conditioners. If you’re pattern does have good taper, some small adjustments may be all you need to dial in your pattern. Here are some of the common adjustments we’ve seen:

  • Reduced pattern volume (i.e. 50 ul to 45 ul or 40 ul)
  • Average pattern volume is 10-20% lower with Ice and 10-15% lower with Fire
  • Shortened pattern distance and/or reverse buffer drop
  • Reduction of applied loads

Don’t let the fear of upsetting your bowlers stop you from trying something new. You can reap the benefits of Fire and Ice with a little patience. Start now and you have the rest of the summer to fine-tune before fall leagues. You’ll enjoy the rewards of your hard work and patience when your bowlers are happy with the more durable lane conditions and you have less oil-related backend issues.

Learn more about Fire and Ice Lane Conditioners