View Full Version : Best Ball Cleaner for the price

06-22-2008, 03:26 PM
What do you think the retail price of this machine should be?

Best ball cleaner for the price. This is an industrial grade machine. You must supply your own drill or use the crank supplied with the machine.

Currently I am thinking of charging at least $75.00 plus shipping (about $20.00 for 1,000 miles from Pittsburgh, PA).
This is a 16 ball cleaner / polisher. The balls are placed in two removal Plexiglas holders and sit on top of a terry cloth towel attached to 3/4" inch plywood platen. The platen is supported by four wheel casters mounted on a 1/2" black pipe bearing (see Photo 3).

Place a drop of Aramith ball Cleaner on each ball and spin the platen.

You can use a drill and the supplied connector to spin it fast (see Photo 1). A Ryobi 12 amp portable drill spins the platen faster than is needed.

The crank supplied with the machine allows the user to rotate the platen at a sufficient speed for cleaning and polishing. A homeowner may find it easier to use the crank than to go find their portable drill (see Photo 2).

After the balls have been cleaned, hold a soft cloth (not supplied) on top of the balls and polish to the desired shine.

The photos displayed are of the prototype. This machine has been tested and works as it was designed to work. The completed machine will look better than the one in the photos.

Approximate specifications:
21 inches X 21 inches
Six inches tall
Weighs 25 pounds
Oak frame stained Mahogany, Polyurethane finish
3/4" Plywood platen with terry cloth towel
Hand crank
Drill attachment (no drill supplied)

Suggestions for improvement are welcome.

I will make and wholesale (three or more) to interested vendors.

Photo 1 Ball Cleaner with Portable drill connector and drill (drill is not supplied)

Photo 2 Ball Cleaner with hand crank.

Photo 3 Ball Cleaner base displaying the bearing system.

If you would like to order one (two weeks to make) send me an email. Current price is $75.00 plus shipping.

Rich R.
06-22-2008, 07:12 PM
Good job Joe.

I am concerned about the balls sticking through the plexiglass without any protection. I don't know if it is possible for the balls to be damaged by the plexiglass, but the potential is there.
I have a professionally made cleaner and at the level where the balls stick through the holder, each hole is lined with a soft material which helps in the cleaning process. I have to assume it was put there for a good reason, other than cleaning.

As far as price goes, if you can sell these for $150 or less, and pay for materials and your time, you will make a good profit. That price point would be much less than any other ball machine on the market. You could probably add a small motor and still keep it at a price well below other machines.

Good luck.

06-23-2008, 04:35 AM
I think that you are right. I changed the plexiglas to wood covered felt on one side to test it. The balls do have a better shine with the felt. See photo below.


Rail Rat
06-23-2008, 03:32 PM
Joe, I assume this is your prototype.

As a marketing professional I would certainly suggest your final product be more refined. For instance with a mold made, the base could be plastic instead of wood which is more durable, lighter and with less joints. The crank could be a one piece of pre-formed pipe and the table punched from one piece of light pre-formed metal, ect.

This way you can mass produce it much easier. I don't know how serious you are but consulting with a good product designer before you start could help get you started in the right direction. The price is a factor but It might still be in the range you are thinking.


06-23-2008, 04:18 PM
Prototype two is now in progress. I doubt that I will have things made of plastic etc as Rail Rat suggests. It is more a DIY project and I will make when ordered. Someone suggested selling the plans for $12.95 and that too is possible.

I think there is a small market for these things. Home owners, perhaps taverns with two or three tables, etc. I will advertise on Ebay and perhaps see if a supplier or two wants to carry one.

Currently I have replaced the drive rod with a better looking system.

I will eliminate the crank and require a drill.

The stabilizer board is now embedded in the box.

And felt is now used for the ball holders.

06-23-2008, 04:30 PM
Great idea Joe, at some time or another we all come up with brilliant ideas the hard part is following through and making the idea turn in to the real thing. Hopefully a few people with make a purchase, keep me updated on how it works out. Good Luck

06-24-2008, 06:43 AM

I like the original bucket design you made last year much better - but this will also do a great job!. Let me know what price you decide on and when they will be available.

06-24-2008, 07:11 AM
Yes, thats what I was thinking too. Joe, how does this machine compare to the bucket style one you posted a few months ago? And, how do the balls get cleaned well, without any pressure coming from the top of the machine? A motor to spin the plate would allow for a buffer on the drill. Or, maybe a drive belt and hand crank (from the side of the machine) would also allow for a buffer on the drill? Either way, great ingenuity!

06-24-2008, 10:27 AM
My first bucket machine worked well. It had a 12 amp motor I bought several years ago. I made two more and bought revised 9 amp (?) grinder / motors from Harbor Freight. Both motors on two different machines burned out within five minutes. Gave up on that and lost some money.

The new machine seems to do an excellent job. A six oz ball spinds on its own weight and I now use ribbed terrycloth to make the ball spin off axis and clean / polish the whole ball.

I am still a little tentative on the felt ball holders. They do pick up some residue from the Ariamith ball cleaner but it appear to drop off. I have yet to try Woollite and /or chalk off to clean the ball holders as needed. In addition, I think that I will also offer a replacement bonnet for the base platen that can be washed and tied back on like a buffer bonnet.

It does not appear that the base cloth gets all that dirty. I am simply trying to accomodate "picky" users.

The Ryobi Portable Drill or any 3/8" drill spins it faster than needed. It takes a little practice (2 minutes) to get the feel for the drill speed

After some experimenting the drill is the best way to clean and polish.

I like holding a terry cloth towel over the balls to polish. This allows one to use whatever cloth is preferred. To date, nothing I have made shines the balls as well as this system. I think it really is about ready for prime time.

After reviewing some preliminary feedback and talking with my wife (and partner) it looks like we will sell for about $95.00 plus shipping. And wholesale three or more.

I will also make the plans available for $12.95 as suggested by another comment.

I will have a video on my web site later that shows the machine in operation.

06-24-2008, 11:28 AM
Hey Joe,

What would be your best guess as to the RPM that is best suited for your machine to clean well?

Just curious.

06-24-2008, 12:09 PM
I don't know what the RPM is or should be.

I know that I run the Ryobi 12 AMP about half speed to clean, maybe 100 - 200 RPM

I can (and do) run it at full speed to polish, maybe 400 - 500 RPM on an 18 inch platen. It is moving fast.

I am making the 2nd edition right now and thought I would check to see if there were any other suggestions.

06-25-2008, 07:49 AM
Sounds like you have it all down, joe. I look forward to the video, and wish you great success with your new product.

06-25-2008, 02:52 PM
Here is the latest revision of the JoKay Ball Cleaner Polisher. I have replaced the drive shaft with a welded system and have re-designed the supports. It is finished in Mahogony stain (others are available) and is constructed of heavier materials for durability. A drill, an 11/32 wrench or a socket wrench can be used to turn the drive shaft. Unfastening four screws allows access to the platen for cleaning or replacement of the ribbed terrycloth towel. A brush is included for cleaning.

To remove the balls the user lifts the ball holder by lifting on the holder near the drill head and all balls are sitting on the platen

The construction process is now more involved and requires welding and use of a jig saw so I am not sure if anyone would want the plans.

The first ten will be sold for $95.50 plus shipping. I now have to cut and assemble several more pieces and make the drive shaft. I will have a description with video on my web site in a few days.

Tonight I will take it to a friendís tavern and clean the balls for three tables for him. Maybe he will buy this one.



Comments and suggested revisions are requested.

What do you think of the price? Should it be higher or lower?

06-26-2008, 07:55 AM
The JoKay BCP got quite a bit of use last night. It cleaned and polished the balls very well. The shine is truly outstanding. However, seems there is always a however, the drill system does work too well.

First the hex head bolt I welded to the bearing was ground down and left metal flakes on the platten. Starting and stopping is difficult and may be putting too much strain on the drill. Currently the drill has not been damaged but there is quite a bit of strain. Either I need to go back to the 3/4" shaft or I need a way to stabalize the drill. Then too, the drill may not be needed.

1. I will try a 9" bolt, bent into the shape of a crank and will simply spin by hand. The platen moves fast enough and hand cranking is sufficient.

2. The ribbed terrycloth does not cause the balls to rotate off the virtical axis. Jogging each of the balls does throw them off their rotational pattern. I tried setting the machine off horizontal and thought that gravity would pull them off center. It does not do this when the drill is used but they do wobble when a crank is used.

3. I will try to devise some sort of stationary top that will create an additional cleaning / polishing surface. This will get the job done faster and may help with throwing the balls off axis. I think that one upper surface could be for cleaning and a second one would be for polishing.

I am trying to come up with a way to make this a very reliable machine, easy to use, and inexpensive to construct. Suggestions are appreciated.

Rail Rat
06-26-2008, 09:25 AM
Joe, I wonder if you need the drill? Maybe the hand crank can work as well.

I saw a salad tosser bowl that had a hand crank which employed an effiecient gearing system so that it took little effort to rotate the mechanism.

Kind of like the gears on a 10 speed bike, only simpler. One big gear that turns a smaller one.


06-26-2008, 12:34 PM
I think once you iron out all the kinks you could charge more, if you wanted too. There arent many easy, inexpensive alternatives that do all 16 balls at once.

06-26-2008, 01:59 PM
I am definitely moving to the hand crank. I checked this AM. The crank is is fast and efficient. Slower rotation allows the balls to turn on the opposing axis and therefore cleans the whole ball. Turns out the crank produces a better result. Speed is not the answer here.The balls are moving rapidly but not at the speed a drill moves them.

I also picked up some fleece and will make a buffer to float on the balls for polishing.

I now wonder if it would be worth while to make a kit. If the kit weighed about 20 pounds would people take it to their pool matches?

If they would use it as a portable cleaner / polisher I must have a crank that is removable. I am trying to figure out a way to get one socket (from a socket wrench set) and then use a piece of steel as a handle to include with the package. Any ideas here would be appreciated.

I think that I could put together a kit with a portable ball cleaner / polisher, Aramith ball cleaner, Dave Hodges' Quick Clean and a microfiber towel. These could all be stored in a type of wooden suitcase. The "other" materials would be sold at cost.

Would any of the league players here take such a kit with them to matches to clean up the table before their match?

06-27-2008, 08:48 AM
Personally, I wouldnt lug that to a match. But that doesnt mean I dont like the portability option, or the idea that the unit could do more than just clean the balls. I also like not having to use a drill, but how long do you have to crank? And, is cleaning/polishing a one step process?

06-28-2008, 10:54 PM
The Ball Cleaner and Polisher is completed (see photos below) and I am now taking orders. The price is $95.50 plus shipping for the first ten. I already have a few orders.

It features
A barstool swivel under a terrycloth encased platen.
Felt Ball holders
Sheep skin polishing covers.
Easy access to the balls after cleaning and polishing. (See photo two)

To use turn the crank. Cranking with normal arm motion moves the balls fast. A two year old child can rotate the crank with no difficulty

Slow cranking for a few turns of the platen rotates the balls on the horizontal axis.
After the balls have dried (or glazed over when using the Aramith ball cleaner) the artificial sheep skin buffer pad is placed on the balls. Normal cranking produces a high shine.

The whole process takes less than five minutes and the balls are ready for use.



06-29-2008, 09:10 AM
Ordering information for the machine is located in the "store" on my web site which can be reached from the URL in my signature shown below.

I now have several orders. If you want one at this price you better order soon.

06-29-2008, 09:30 AM
Cool Joe, I will take one. One question though, is this unit intended to accept wet balls?

06-29-2008, 10:55 AM
I am not sure what you mean by "wet" balls. The intended use is to place a drop of Aramith ball cleaner on each ball and then use the crank to rotate the platen. The balls will of course be a little damp from the Aramith chemistry. When the balls are clean you have to wait for the Aramith ball cleaner to dry to a haze. The the polishing buffer is then placed on top and the balls get an excellent shine.

Another person suggested having the reverse side of the polishing buffer as a cleaning buffer. It seems that if the buffer is held still while the platen rotates the job gets done faster. Kind of a no brainer as soon as someone says it.

In the prior buffers I have made I used a piece of rug on the platen. In the new version I have used a rug in one version and a terrycloth towel in a second version. I now know that you should not use a rug in the machine as it takes the shine off the balls and does not allow them to have a high shine when polishing.

In the current edition I use a terrycloth towel. The platten and the felt ball holder do accumulate some of the dried out Aramith ball cleaner after four or five sessions. I have included a stiff brush to clean the surfaces when they accumulate too much residue.

I doubt that this is a selling feature but I have noticed that cleaned and polished balls get dirty more quickly if they are used immediately after polishing. It appears that the Aramith ball cleaner, which they say is not a wax but acts like wax, needs a little time to harden. It is probably best to clean the balls at the end of the night and then use the next day.

The balls can be used immediately but, as noted, they tend to get scractched up and collect dirt a little faster. I had never noticed this before when cleaning by hand but then I don't think I ever got the shine on the balls like I do with the new machine.

06-29-2008, 08:30 PM
Thanks Joe. I wasnt sure exactly how the process worked. I still cant help but wonder if putting dry waxed balls in first would work better. That way nothing in the machine would ever get any wet wax on it. The cheap 3 ball cleaner I have now works that way: Put all the balls in a ziplock bag, add a capful of aramith cleaner, shake the bag, take balls out to dry, then put them in the mini buffer, 3 at a time. If I dont let the balls fully dry first, things get messy, and the balls dont buff out as well. I'm not saying your machine does this, just wondering if dry would work better.

06-29-2008, 09:18 PM
Interesting idea. I will have to think about how to do that and not cause too much of a problem for the user. I am looking into a replacable platen cover. One could be "wet" and one is "dry." The problem here is the balls have to be removed, the cover changed and then the balls replaced. I don't see how I could use something like a baggie as the machine probably would not rotate the balls - though it might. Hmm

To date I have not noticed that the platen gets damp though it must gather some moisture as the balls rotate. I think that the terry cloth towel absorbs most of the moisture as it cleans because the balls do shine well after waiting for the haze to form on the ball. I guess the towel is dry by the time the balls are dry. The towel is more absorbent.

I suppose that the absolutly best way would be to have two machines, one to clean and one to polish. But then we are getting into twice the price. A pool hall with many tables might prefer this system but I doubt that it is needed for a single user.

06-29-2008, 09:20 PM
BTW, I have learned that some dry residue does accumulate after 5-10 cleanings and I include a stiff plastic brush to scrape off the dry residue. It takes a couple of minutes to clean the machine after five to 10 uses.

The machine shown above has now cleaned about 10 sets of balls and I have not had to clean the machine of Aramith residue. I did brush off dust specs and such before the photo was taken but I did not have to clean out excess stuff.

Fran Crimi
06-30-2008, 08:43 AM
Just a suggestion, Joe, but I think you should run it 500 times before selling it. It could save you some potential problems with customers.


06-30-2008, 09:27 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: JoeW</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Interesting idea. I will have to think about how to do that and not cause too much of a problem for the user. I am looking into a replacable platen cover. One could be "wet" and one is "dry." The problem here is the balls have to be removed, the cover changed and then the balls replaced. I don't see how I could use something like a baggie as the machine probably would not rotate the balls - though it might. Hmm

To date I have not noticed that the platen gets damp though it must gather some moisture as the balls rotate. I think that the terry cloth towel absorbs most of the moisture as it cleans because the balls do shine well after waiting for the haze to form on the ball. I guess the towel is dry by the time the balls are dry. The towel is more absorbent.

I suppose that the absolutly best way would be to have two machines, one to clean and one to polish. But then we are getting into twice the price. A pool hall with many tables might prefer this system but I doubt that it is needed for a single user.</div></div>

I should have been more specific, sorry joe. Testing for a "dry run" should be simple enough, because the plastic bag never touches the unit. Put 16 balls in the ziplock bag, add a capful of aramith, and shake the bag to wet the balls evenly. Then set the balls out to dry on any clean surface. (I usually use a few paper plates.) The balls take 10-15 minutes to fully dry, but the results should be better...they are for me anyway. There also should be less build-up on the washable machine parts.
Personally, I wouldnt mind waiting for the balls to dry. The real chore for me is buffing them out 3 at a time.

06-30-2008, 12:18 PM
Bambu That is a good idea and it would certainly keep the machine clean.

I did check the machine early this morning and after ten ball cleaning sessions there was some residue on the felt, but not on the terrycloth. A quick spray with Spot Shots, two minutes scrubbing with the plastic brush and the residue was gone. The machine cleans up quickly.

None-the-less, your suggestion is a good one and it would save cleaning the machine periodically. I will include with the instructions.

Fran this whole venture is an exercise in creativity. I am finding that many people make suggestions and some are quite useful. I'll get the 500 trials with the first users who are getting the machine for less than the final version will cost. In addition, I have a money back guarentee so users are only risking about $30.00 shipping charges. I am risking the rest because I know I have a winner. The initial responses has been great so there is a real need for this type of machine. And its all fun. Kay (my wife) and I are having a ball in our "retirement" years.

06-30-2008, 03:41 PM
Great, I hope that helps. I look forward to testing the unit.

07-03-2008, 03:14 PM
Bump for a good product that unlike commercial ball cleaning machines isn't abrasive.


07-03-2008, 05:26 PM
Thanks Mike. They are just about finished. Looks like I will mail on Saturday by UPS but UPS won't pickup until Monday.

07-07-2008, 12:16 PM
We shipped the "Waldron Mechanical Pool Ball Polisher" that were ordered today by UPS. Made the drop off before the truck pickup. I hope that those who ordered one will review the machine here. They do have wooden handles on the crank.

You guys got a deal. The next ones will be sold for $159.00 plus $30.00 shipping. Kay (my wife) and I did not realize how much work goes into making one of these things even in a production process. We worked until 9:00 PM evey night for five days to get them out like we said that we would. A couple of business people reviewed the machine and the competition. As usual I under priced my own work. May not sell as many at this price but that is what they are worth. My "consultants" thought that they should be priced at $250.00 but that is just too high.

07-11-2008, 03:45 PM
Joe, I'm unpacking my new machine. Review to follow.


07-11-2008, 04:31 PM
Joe, Very nice design, very strong construction and easy to use. Thank you for the
effort and the quick delivery. I'm a happy camper.


07-11-2008, 09:44 PM
A good job, welcoming you to exhibition your products in our GBE 2009.

07-19-2008, 12:05 PM
Just a bump for the best ball cleaner

07-20-2008, 10:07 AM
Now that I know bumps are good, I second the bump. Joe did a great job on these, no doubt!

07-20-2008, 10:43 AM
Thanks guys. There was a little trouble and I had to replace some of the cranks which were too short. One machine got damaged in transit. Other wise they seem to have been well received.

I have learned that this polisher is better than any of the previous machines I have made. It yields a shine on the balls that I have not seen before. I am quite pleased with it but have learned that it takes more effort to make than I had anticipated.

In a few weeks, Kay and I are going to make eight more and have them ready if there are orders. If not we will give to family and friends.

I have mine stored under the pool table. I have found that if I throw the balls in the polisher every day after playing for a few hours, they stay quite clean and highly polished. Looks like they only need to be cleaned about once a month or so.

07-20-2008, 04:20 PM
If you didnt mind me selling them, I would buy any extras you end up with.

07-20-2008, 05:37 PM
Did you see the new price on my web site? They now cost $159.00 plus $35.00 shipping. Total price is $194.00. I will wholesale three or more for a 20% discount.

I do not have any other orders right now and Kay and I figure on waiting a few weeks before we make any more. Her job jar is getting pretty full.

07-21-2008, 06:24 PM
The Mechanical Pool Ball Cleaner and Poliser is now listed on Ebay.

Ebay listing (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=330255152875&ssPageName=STRK:MESE:IT&ih=014)

07-27-2008, 02:21 AM
Joe, It is the best, and no abrasive. Thanks again.