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  • Training

    Years ago as a teenager and avid bowler I had aspirations of becoming a pinspotter mechanic. That never happened (although I did work briefly at a center behind the desk and cleared the occasional pin pileup in the 82/70's). Now, years later and bored with my current profession, I am considering this possibility once again. Now, some questions:

    1) At age 40 is it "too late" to start training?

    2) Does it pay well? I'd need a minimum of about $46k/yr depending on location. ($35k if I move to my location of choice).

    I would love some feedback and pointers.


  • #2
    Re: Training

    You can make plenty of money as a mechanic.

    40 is not too old.


    • #3
      Re: Training

      Dave, I say do it, I am sure you will enjoy it much more than whatever job you are doing now.


      • #4
        Re: Training

        40 is not too old to become a mechanic as long as you're in good shape. I know some 30-35 yr old mechanics that will only be able to do this job for another 10-15 years because of physical problems. I also know 40-45 yr olds that are still climbing around these machines like they did in their 20's.

        The $$$ may be an issue tho. You're asking for between $17 & $22 an hr. You're probably not going to get that until you have several years under your belt... If then, depending on where you work. Most mom & pop centers only pay their head mechanics that much. The fastest rise from pinchaser to head mechanic that I know of is Smokey, at about 3 years. It took me about 12. Of course, it depends on seniority & position availability.

        This is one of the most satisfying jobs that I know of. If I die tomorrow I’ll have no regrets regarding my career choice. I love what I do & I even get paid to do it! I think most bowling mechanics feel the same.


        • #5
          Re: Training

          Dutch is correct on everything but one...I'm over 45 but I can only climb on the machines like I did when I was 30.

          I enjoy working on machines also - I know I'm not going to be rich doing it. I would rather make less money doing something I like instead of making more and not having fun. Been in the latter situation before - didn't have fun.
          Jerry Smith
          NorthWest BowlTech


          • #6
            Re: Training

            Thanks for the info guys. Just by reading these posts I can tell most of you REALLY enjoy your jobs. That's a rare thing. Being a pinspotter mechanic would be a perfect marriage of my love for bowling and my interest in mechanical things. I really liked that part-time job I had years ago. I HATED working the front desk and I always hoped for a pileup or yo-yo ball so I could do something "fun". I learned the basics very quickly. So much so the head mechanic let me take a crack at fixing a slipping ball lift belt. Never quite got it, but he trusted me enough around the machines to let me try. Of course my memory may not be what it used to be. [img]/content/btubb/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif[/img] I'm still in OK shape. I need to quit smoking, but all my bones and joints can still take a beating.

            There is one place I would love to work at in MA. It's a 48 lane house with 24 82/30's on one side and 24 82/70's on the other (the 82/70 side was converted from candlepins at some point).

            Money WOULD be an issue to some extent, but I agrre with jerjag. I'd rather make less money doing what I LIKE to do. I'm not 18 and living with mother anymore. [img]/content/btubb/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif[/img] I've tried emailing a couple of establishments trying to get info, but nobody wants to reply. Maybe I'll make an appearance during a weekday to bowl a few strings and "ambush" the mechanic on duty. If he likes his job as much as you guys I'm sure he'd be glad to help. Maybe I could work a weekend shift part-time for "beer money" and see how it goes.

            Anyway, sorry for the long post and thanks for the info!


            • #7
              Re: Training

              davect, might be a good idea to line up some schooling with AMF or Stahl's before you switch careers. This will vault you ahead of other applicants without proper training and could put you immediately into higher pay. Not that much higher, training is one thing but applying it is another. You have the most important tool already and that is desire.

              Find a place that runs fair or better. You will be an asset to the head mechanic that is there and he will gladly train you on what you can't learn at school. Here you will get a handle on the machines and learn something about scoring systems.

              Not only do you need to learn the machines but you need to understand lane conditioning. This is extremely critical to developing and maintaining a playable scoring condition.

              Good luck, Mike
              Pinspotters do not break down when they are not running!


              • #8
                Re: Training

                It's a whole different ball game on the other side of things. Make sure that it something that you are sure that you want to do. [img]/content/btubb/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/confused.gif[/img]


                • #9
                  Re: Training

                  Originally posted by Mike Stalker:
                  davect, might be a good idea to line up some schooling with AMF or Stahl's before you switch careers.
                  <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Absolutely! That was my plan. I think I would need to find a beginner class though. Or, as mentioned earlier, get a part-time gig to (re)learn the basics. Do they even offer beginner courses? The ones I've seen appear to be for the more experienced.

                  By the way, if there's anyone on this board from AMF Rip Van Winkle Lanes in Norwalk, Connecticut I'd love to hear from you! [img]/content/btubb/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/cool.gif[/img]


                  • #10
                    Re: Training

                    I am only 22 and climbing in/out/around the 70's and 30's I work on is brutal. Better get you some comfy boots cause jumping up and down on conerete all day is ruff on the feet and knees. Other than than I love me job.


                    • #11
                      Re: Training

                      I picked up application at the local house today to see about a part-time gig. What should I put in the "Position applied for" section? C-Mechanic?

                      Never had a chance to speak with anyone at length. They had a junior league going...48 lanes of pins clattering, screaming kids, and loud music. I'll bet the mechanic was in back with the relative peace and quiet of the machines! [img]/content/btubb/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif[/img]

                      They must need some help. I the 15 minutes I was there in the few lanes in my field of view, I saw three light balls that wouldn't enter the ball exit, and two pinspotters that bounced when spotting pins causing them to wobble horribly. The manager I spoke with was pleased that I have done this before, and her eyes lit up when I mentioned I was considering the pinspotter classes. We'll see what happens...


                      • #12
                        Re: Training

                        bein head mech IS a great job in the right center. finding that right center is hard tho. most center owners are pinchasers themselves and can handle most calls, so dont see the point in payin big $$$$ to handle the big probs when they can eventually figure it out themselves anyhow.

                        another trait of a good center is when the owner/manager just simply lets YOU run the machines, try experimental things, new products. problems arise when the glorified pinchaser, or on the advice of a glorified pinchaser, wanders downback, sees you've removed all the belt runners from the distributers and goes nuts, even tho there's not a pin jam for days.

                        when the machines are clanking along beautifully, its very gratifying to take pride in your good work, tho as most will attest to, its way too often thankless and unappreciated.


                        • #13
                          Re: Training

                          Coors You hit nailon the head with your last statement. It feels real good to take over a center that is struggling and turn it in to a gold mine or fix something no one before you could fix. Davect just remember any center that needs a head mechanic is probably not running very well. If you do start work remember there is always someone here in this forum that will be willing to help with any problems you face
                          They say that the **** rolls down hill but the smell always starts at the top.


                          • #14
                            Re: Training

                            Originally posted by lafarge:
                            Davect just remember any center that needs a head mechanic is probably not running very well.
                            <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">I'm just going for a part-time gig to see if I want to pursue getting full-blown formal training. Actually, this house IS looking for a head mechanic. It's an AMF-owned facility and I saw the job posted on the AMF web site.
                            If you do start work remember there is always someone here in this forum that will be willing to help with any problems you face
                            <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Yes, this is a GREAT resource.


                            • #15
                              Re: Training

                              Getting back to one of my earlier questions: What should I put in the "Position applied for" box on the job application? What is the official corporate title for the guy who works a few hours a week out back clearing pileups, nudging balls into the exit, and getting coffee for the boss?


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