Today we have been re-covering table 2 at the Nottingham Snooker Academy. The cushions on table 2 had a crack in the woodwork and rather than just re-cover them, I suggested we fit a good condition set of second hand steel block cushions manufactured by Burroughs and Watts, table 2 being an early Riley table with 1.5 inch thick Welsh slate. there are many burroughs and watts steel plates fitted to differant make’s of table , Burroughs and Watts around the turn of the Century offered the cushions as an upgrade to any table haveing a 12foot by 6 foot 1.5 inch wide slate .
And in fact gave the cusions an extra wide cushion bolt slot of around 3 inch , so that the many differant slates with bolt holes in diferant positions where catered for , and made fitting the cushions an easy upgrade. you just have to watch out for the depth of the hole down the slate from the top surface to align up.
The bolt slot is also used when aligning the centre and corner pocket openings to be uniformed to each other. slotting steel cushions is ok , but if you come across slotted wood cushions then these are to be avoided if possible , I was offered two 10 year old wood cushion sets from an old Riley’s Club that had closed down the other day , but turned them down because they where slotted.
The cushions are in exceptional condition for their age which I guess to be around 1910/20 , but may require a re-rubber in about two years time. But the main thing was to solve the cracked cushion. The cushions had been re-blocked and re-rubbered only two recovers ago, but we do not know when. It could have been in the 1980’s or 90’s by the look of the rubber that is on them. We also fitted a new set of leathers and nets. The pocket openings are slightly over 3.5 inches at the fall, making this the second match sized pocket table in the club.
We recovered the cushions and the slate bed in best Strachan West of England 30 oz 6811 tournament cloth.
Take a look below at the steel cushions from the rear before the wood frieze is put on , why they call them Steel Blocks is a little misleading , as the steel is actualy fitted behind the wood block that the rubber is glued to,you can see the many wood screws in the steel plate that are screwed into the rear of the wood overhang block that the rubber is glued to and the cloth is stapled to , they should be called steel Plate cushions , this plate is 3/8th thick steel , and the noise the ball makes as it hit’s the rubber is not as loud as the thud on a normal all wood constructed cushion the steel tends to muffle the sound , the angle of the rebound is also more accurate as wood has tight and loose grain unlike the steel which is solid all the way along it’s lenth, the steel being more uniformed in it’s response of ball rebound , at the end of the day you get a little more bounce from a steel cushion but if the wood cushion is a heavy wood like Cuban mahogany or Oak then there is little differance.
they are a little harder to work on than a normal Wood cushion , and many fitters do not like them , GCL billiards are used to these cushion’s having many years of experience working on them ,where some firms charge extra for working on steel block cushion’s, GCL billiards charge the same price for steel cushions as re-covering or re-rubbering normal wood cushions.
Barry and Steve are the first to try it out. Steve then took me on and he made a 46 break and completely annihilated me. I think I will stick to fitting tables and not playing on them. I am sure the members of the Snooker Academy and The Embankment will really appreciate the quality of the steel cushions. These type of cushions are still played on today by the world’s top snooker professionals. Burroughs and Watts were the first firm to patent the steel block cushioned table, but they called it the Steel Vacuum Cushion around 1895 and apart from the wood blocks not having the vacuum holes behind the rubber, the design is still the same over 100 years later. Only the shape of the pocket plates have changed.