I have been using Novus 1 for cleaning balls in my ball machine for the last couple of years, based on recommendations I saw in AZB. I came across Dr. Dave's video on throw with various ball cleaners, and it got me to wondering how Novus 1 matched up (Dave didn't test Novus 1). The other cleaner I have is the cream from Aramith, which you would assume is the best thing to use since they make the balls. I never liked using Aramith because it is thick and flaky and seems like it would gum up a ball machine quickly. Also, it is a mess to apply. Novus, on the other hand, can be diluted and easily sprayed on the balls in the machine. After doing this experiment, I am a little up in the air as to what the "right" cleaner is. It would seem that consistency is important, which in my experiment favors Aramith. What cleaners are used in tournaments? Is there a standard? What is used in the 14.1 events, where slipperiness can have a great impact on how well balls open?
PURPOSE OF MY EXPERIMENT
Originally, I just wanted to see where Novus fit in compared to Dave's results. However, I began to see something odd, so I decided to take Dave's experiment one step further. For each ball in my experiment, I shot it over and over to see if the amount of throw changed over time. Typically I shot each ball at least 20 times. I did find some interesting changes (summarized below).
First, take a look at Dave's video to see the experimental set up:
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
For those of you who want the short version, here are my results. Note that I hit the balls a little harder than Dave did so that makes sense that I got slightly less throw with Aramith than Dave did:
1. When I cleaned the balls with Aramith (and buffed them in the ball machine) I found that throw started out at 2 inches, and within 8 to 10 trials, the throw increased to 4 inches, and remained there.
2. When I cleaned the balls with Novus 1 (and buffed them in the ball machine) I found that throw started out at just under 2 inches and took about 20 trials to reach 4 inches of throw. I also found that the amount of throw was inconsistent, as in the throw would go up to 3 or 4 inches, and then come back down to 2.5 inches for several trials, and then go back up to 4 inches.
3. I noted that since my ball cleaner has been using Novus 1 cleaner for a long time, the padding may be impregnated with residual Novus, which could impact the results of the Aramith test (item 1 above). So I cleaned more balls by hand with Aramith and only buffed them until shiny with a cotton cloth. I did not put them in the ball machine. In this case, the throw was consistent at 5 inches the entire time (over 20 tries).
There is a clear difference in throw between using Aramith cleaned by hand and Novus 1 cleaned in a ball machine. The Aramith throws very consistently at 5 inches, even from the very first shot, whereas the Novus 1 throws inconsistently, and changes dramatically after fewer than 10 rolls up and down the table (10 trials). Novus "tops out" at a throw around 4 inches, but is still inconsistent well after 20 tries.
It seems to me that Aramith is the way to go since it provides consistency. I find that when using Novus 1, the balls open up more easily than when using Aramith. I wonder whether this is an "unfair" advantage, akin to spraying silicone on the balls. I would be interested to hear what is being used in tournament play. I believe it is wise to learn how to play under various playing conditions, but knowing how the balls were cleaned can help a player gauge how much the throw conditions are likely to change.
For brevity, I am not going to include all data normally called for in a scientific test. Suffice to say that everything was new and clean (didn't touch the balls with my hands at any time), and that I did what I could to maintain consistency from trial to trial.
Aramith cleaned in ball machine (3 sets of balls were used and the balls were placed in the same frozen position on hole reinforcers, and the same ball was sent up the table each time):
Trial 1 (inches of throw):
Novus 1 cleaned in ball machine:
1.75,2,2.5,2,2,2.25,2.25,2.5,2.25,2,2.75,3,2.5,2.7 5,3,2.5,3,3,3,3.5,4,3.75,4,3.5,3.25,3.25,3,4,2.75, 5,4,4,4,4
2,1.5,2,2,2,2,2.5,2.5,2.5,2,2,3,4,2.5,2.5,3,2,2,4, 2,2,3,2.5,2.5,2.5,4,4,4,4,4,5,4,3.75,3.75,4,2.5,3, 3.5
1.5,2,2,2 (abandoned test after verifying the low throw with unused balls)
Aramith balls cleaned by hand, no ball machine:
5 (abandoned after seeing that second set of hand cleaned balls started at 5 inches of throw)