Dave Gibson’s Gadgets and levelling snooker tables

I visited Beeston Snooker Hall yesterday and got talking to Dave Gibson, owner of Beeston Snooker Hall since the 1960’s.  Dave has always been one for Gadgets.  Many people would think “why would he want one of those”, but I have known Dave for many years and he is always interested in electronics and the technical side of Snooker.

On this occasion he was showing me his self-made ball ramp with laser for testing speed of a table cloth and also bounce of a cushion.  The device also shows that a true level table can still roll out with nap and also natural slate warp dip spots.  The laser pointer that is installed in this Ball ramp really shows the ball rolling off, yet my engineers level and also electronic digital level – which are very accurate pieces of equipment – show the slate at that point is true.

I was very impressed with this gadget (I should not really call it that as it is a nice bit of scientific equipment).  We were talking about the pro tables on TV.  I am sure even those would show a ball rolling out on the thin match cloth with this bit of equipment when the fitter had got it spot on for level,  This device also confirmed that I got the recent bed cloths that had been fitted tight as the speed was as good as worn out no nap table cloth.

When I am recovering tables in many snooker clubs and halls I often overhear players comment after a bad shot “the table is not level it rolled off a mile”.  What players have to take into consideration is strength of nap, length of nap, thickness of cloth, temperature of table, finger drag marks in cloth and sweat off hands on cloth.  All these can take a slow ball off its intended direction.  Did you also know that when a ball strikes another ball the force is also transferred down the ball towards the cloth.  The same is also true when a ball strikes the cushion, that is why you get track marks along the edge of the table and around the pocket openings and also on the black and pink spots which wear indentations in them quicker than the other spots because people always go for the highest scoring ball.

In Dave’s Snooker Hall he also has large fans that can cause a down draft on the table.  Just like a current in a river these down drafts leave a current of air rebounding off the tables and also players as they stand underneath them redirecting air flow.  Players do not really look into the outside forces of a ball rolling off.  They always blame the table being out of level.

True out of level tables ?
When we get a table that is truly out of level it may be just a simple jack up and re-shim the legs to even it out, or it may be warped frame work which may incorporate a rather expensive full strip down, slates off and reshooting of the frame level.

In recent years (the 1980’s onwards) some modern table manufacturers have not been manufacturing the tables correctly in that the inner muntins (slate supports) are not in contact with the slate.  This causes the softer Italian slate to dip in the middle.  I refer this as a slate sag issue caused by no support in the centre of the slate.  I have devised a way of rectifying this by using adjustable muntins.  Brackets are fitted on the underside of the framework in the centre and three square and true floating muntins are used with adjustable bolts to tighten and adjust pressure to the centre of the slate upwards.  Over time a little 1/4 turn of the adjustable muntins will cure the slate dip.

If you know of a table that has this issue of balls rolling from each side towards the centre of the slate, I can retro fit these adjustable muntins to any table without taking the slates off.  Please get in touch for a quote.