How Bowling Pinsetters Work

In the early days of bowling, re-spotting the pins was a physically demanding job.  There were actually people behind the lanes resetting the pins and sending back the balls.

That person (the pin-boy or 'pinsetter') was stationed in the sunken area of a bowling alley behind the pins and was responsible for placing the pins in the proper positions, removing pins that have been knocked down, and returning balls to the bowlers.

Did you know there are over 4,000 individual parts that go into resetting the pins?

Today there are amazing robotic devices that do all the pin setting.

The automatic pinsetter, first patented by Gottfried Schmidt, was introduced by the American Machine and Foundry Company (AMF) in 1946.  This first pinsetter was a monster, weighing nearly 2 tons (1.8 metric tons) and standing 9 feet (2.7 m) tall.

Modern pinsetters are but a fraction of a size of their predecessors and much more intelligent.

Have you ever wondered about the mechanics of how the pins are spotted and how your ball comes back to you?  Take a look at the clip below we found on the Science Discovery Channel, which helps show how it all works. 

An automatic pinsetter works with a total of 20 pins, twice the number needed for the 10-pin arrangement.  The pinsetter goes to work in cycles, set procedures that are executed after a ball has been rolled.