Why Do Bowling Balls Crack?

why do bowling balls crack

While it is uncommon, bowling balls can crack. There are often a few reasons as to why this can happen.

The main reason why bowling balls crack is due to fluctuations in temperature. You have to remember that bowling balls are not a ‘single material’. There are actually multiple layers of material inside the bowling ball.

If the temperature fluctuates, then these materials can expand and contract. They will all be expanding and contracting at different temperatures, though. It is this that causes the cracking.

How the Bowling Ball is Manufactured

In other cases, it will be down to the manufacturing of the ball. A brand-new bowling ball will unlikely have holes in it. They will need to be drilled. However, if you do this incorrectly, the bowling ball may crack. For example, if the following happens:

  • The drillbit that is being used is too blunt
  • The holes are drilled in the wrong location
  • The drillbit being used is the wrong type of drill bit
  • The drill is moving too fast

That is just scratching the surface of what can go wrong when a bowling ball is being drilled. This is why most people will not do the drilling themselves. Instead, they will outsource it to an expert. While there is still the risk that cracking of the bowling ball can occur, it is going to be far, far less likely. 

Finally, some bowling balls may just crack with age. They are being constantly thrown down onto a hard surface with force, after all.

How Often Do Bowling Balls Crack During Drilling?

If you are drilling your own bowling balls and you do not know how to do it properly, then chances are that the bowling ball is going to crack every single time. Drilling bowling balls is a skill, and you need to practice a lot to get it right.

When bowling balls are drilled by professional ball drillers, they should never crack. The times that they do crack, it will often be due to a flaw in the ball as opposed to an issue with the person doing the drilling.

If the ball is taken to a professional for drilling, then you can be rest assured that they will replace the ball if there are any issues during the drilling process. However, this often only applies if you purchase the ball from them initially.

If you bought the ball elsewhere, then they may charge you for ‘drilling protection’, which you can think of as insurance. This is to help protect them against people bringing in flawed balls and hoping to get a free ball out of it. 

What Temperature Will a Bowling Ball Crack?

This is dependent on the bowling ball and the materials that it has been manufactured from.

When you purchase the bowling ball, it should come with a user guide. In this manual, it will clearly state the temperature that the bowling ball should be stored at.

In most cases, bowling balls will require the temperature to be below 140F, which shouldn’t be that difficult to attain. There are some on the market that may be even lower than this. For example, we have seen some balls that cannot go above 125F without the risk of cracking.

Remember, the temperature of the bowling ball will impact so much more than whether it is likely to crack. You need to control the temperature of the bowling ball because it will impact the way that it plays.

For example, if the bowling ball is too cold, then it will be harder. This will cause it to slide a lot more along the bowling alley.

Warmer balls shrink. You may even struggle to get your fingers into the drilled holes as a result. The bowling ball will also become softer. This means less skid and more hook on the ball.

How Do You Keep a Bowling Ball at an Ideal Temperature?

To be honest with you, bowling balls have such a high maximum temperature that most people will never hit it…assuming they treat their ball with care.

The main reason why people end up with cracked bowling balls due to temperature fluctuations is that they leave them in their vehicle overnight. Your car will act like an oven. If it is a little bit hot outside, then it is going to get even hotter inside. This will lead to the ball cracking.

As long as you do not store your bowling balls in your vehicle, then you should be fine. Keep them indoors in a cool, dry place and you will never have to worry about them cracking due to changes in the temperature!

Can You Fix a Cracked Bowling Ball?

Cracked bowling balls can be repaired. Obviously, it is not ideal. Once a ball has cracked, that crack is always going to be a weak point on the material. However, if you can’t quite afford a new bowling ball, then you can do a quick repair job on it.

To repair a cracked bowling ball, you will need to get your hands on a bowling ball repair kit. There are some people that will buy the components of the kit separately (a sealant, sandpaper, etc.) however, we find that buying a kit ensures that you get the right materials with the minimum amount of fuss. 

We recommend purchasing a whole new bowling ball opposed to repairing a bowling ball. A bowling ball that has been repaired will never perform as it should. This Brunswick bowling ball comes in a wide variety of colors and is great for beginners as well as seasoned players.

You cannot repair cracks in plastic bowling balls. Well, at least not without a ton of effort. If you have a cracked plastic bowling ball, then it is probably best just to throw it away. 

These are the steps that you will need to follow in order to repair a cracked bowling ball.

Contact the Manufacturer

If you believe that the crack is down to a flaw in the ball, then contact the manufacturer. They will likely be able to replace it under warranty. Even if they can’t, it never hurts to ask.

If you believe that the issue is caused by the drilling process, then contact the driller. They may be able to help. You can often tell it is down to the drilling process if the cracks are appearing around the drill holes.

Fill in the Crack

Inside of your repair kit, you will have a filler. You will need to inject this directly into the crack.

It is OK if it overflows a little bit. What is more important at this stage is ensuring that the entire crack is filled with the filler. 

It is likely going to take at least a day for the filler to completely dry. There will be an accelerator in the packaging that should speed this up, but you are still looking at your bowling ball being out of action for at least 24-48 hours. It isn’t a quick process by any stretch of the imagination. 

Sand the Surface

Once you know that the filler is dry, you will need to sand the surface of the bowling ball.

Since the sandpaper in the repair kit has been designed to be used wet, you will need to wet the bowling ball while sanding. It is important that the area never dries out. It will cause issues.

It isn’t just the patched area that you will need to be sanding, though. You need to sand the entire ball so it is level.

Sanding is a key part of owning a bowling ball as the way in which you sand things will change how it moves on the bowling alley. So, you should look up a guide for exact instructions on how to sand the ball in a way that suits your game. 

Polish the Ball

All that is left is polishing your bowling ball. This is likely something that you will be doing regularly to your bowling ball anywhere, so it shouldn’t be that much of an issue. Just use your normal equipment and polish.

Of course, you could just skip all of this and take your bowling ball to a professional instead. At least that way you can be sure that the bowling ball will be polished ‘correctly’.

What Can You Do With a Broken Bowling Ball?

If your bowling ball is cracked beyond repair, then it is pretty useless. Obviously, you cannot play with it again.

Thankfully, you don’t really need to do anything special with a broken bowling ball. Even your local bowling alley is just throwing them in the trash. Although, we do recommend that you take them to a local dump instead of putting in your trash. They are heavy and your garbageman can get a rather nasty surprise if they just fall through the bag!

Alternatively, there are some people that will use old bowling balls for craft projects. You can try to list the broken ball for free on Facebook or Craigslist. Somebody may be able to get some use out of it.

Final Thoughts

There are several reasons why bowling balls may crack. Most of the time, it is going to be down to poor care of the bowling ball. If you treat your bowling ball correctly, then it could last for years.

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