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Restoration Tips And Product Reviews
Over the years we have restored countless pool tables ranging from billiard tables from the late 18th century to late 20th century. We’ve seen lots of tables get damaged due to a variety of causes. In this section, we’d like to share with you, our customers, other pool table restorers, furniture restorers, and upholsterers, some of our techniques and products that we use to insure your table comes out as good as possible in the shortest amount of time.
As time progresses, we will give you insight on what your table will need and why it needs it. We’ll also share with you the specific tools and products that make our job possible. Hopefully, this will give you a greater understanding of the work and cost of your table’s particular needs.I think it only fitting that we begin with what most people would consider to be the heart of their pool table. The cloth.
While there are a number of manufacturers out there that do a fair job of making cloth, we have found that the level of quality and service provided by Championship is second-to-none. They offer cloth in a very wide range of colors as well as several different types. So, whether you are a novice at the game of pool or a professional, they have something to fit your needs.
Championship offers a total of 9 different types of billiard cloth. This translates to a tailor-made, customer-specific job. They offer two different versions of their “Titan” fabrics. Both are designed to be extra durable for home tables. Their “Titan Brite” collection offers additional colors not typically associated with pool tables.?
Their “Invitational” cloth, again, has two separate versions; with and without Teflon. Installers around the world use this particular cloth. While it isn’t the cheapest cloth on the market, it is still very affordable. The additional Teflon coating helps to reduce “scorch marks” caused from the extreme friction during both breaks and extra powerful shots.
Next in their line-up is the “Saturn” cloth with Teflon. This is by far, the most economical cloth they offer. While not as durable as either their “Titan” or “Invitational” cloths, it still should provide years of good play. Again, a Teflon coating has been added to reduce scorch marks.
Virtually the same cloth is offered in a non-Teflon version called “Mercury Ultra“.
“Valley Teflon Ultra” is Championship’s hybrid cloth. This is a worsted blend designed to be both economical and, yet, fast-playing like the more expensive cloths. This cloth, I find, is best suited for coin-op pool tables. Since drinks often do get spilled on tables, bar owners and amusement companies need a reasonably good compromise between all the cloths offered and yet, still be affordable to replace. The “Valley Teflon Ultra” fits that bill. While I wouldn’t say it possesses the best of any traits, it does have enough of them to make this, again, a good compromise.
Moving up in the chain, Championship offers (as a direct competitor to Simonis) their “Pro-Am 3020“. This particular cloth mirrors the characteristics of Simonis’ 860 fabric, with the added bonus of increased durability. Championship boasts that their “Pro-Am 3020” cloth is up to 50% more durable than Simonis 860. This is a true worsted wool 21 oz. cloth (very similar to the fabric used in a fine suit). This cloth is slightly less expensive than Championship’s flagship cloth….
“Tour Edition 3030” is their best! Personally, this is my go-to cloth when customers say they want the best. It plays fast. It lasts a LONG time. It resists divots. And, it just looks FANTASTIC! When put on a properly installed table, this stuff is wonderful! As with their “Pro-Am 3020”, this is also a true worsted wool cloth. While slightly heaver in weight (24 oz.), it still plays extremely fast! From an installation perspective, it has a bit more stretch than any of the cloths that Simonis offers. This additional stretch makes upholstering curves in the pockets MUCH easier and cleaner. Installation of any worsted wool cloth requires special techniques in order to prevent streak marks across the table and puckering/dimples on the rails.
Hood Leather Goods
For years Hood Leather has been supplying the pool table industry with quality pockets. Whether it be #3, #6, “G”, or any of the other sizes made over the years, Hood has been there to take care of us.
Most people (whether in or out of the industry) don’t realize that, prior to the 1930’s, there was no industry standard for pool table pockets. The stock market collapse of 1929 put lots of small pool table manufacturers and pocket manufacturers out of business. Before these smaller, independent companies got bought out (or simply folded), each iron casting company used their own specifications to make their own pockets. Somewhere in the 1930’s, after pool table companies consolidated and iron casting companies consolidated, my guess is that the biggest players in these industries got together and agreed upon industry standard sizes.What does this mean for the end-user? Well, it means that if you own a table made before 1940, you should be careful with your pockets. They can only be repaired and restored. They can’t be replaced.
Hood Leather has been restoring antique pockets for years! They know their stuff. We have sent pockets to them for complete restoration; which includes: new leather uppers, liners, and nets, and (on #3 irons) re-plate the pocket arms in either nickle/brass/antique brass. Hood Leather also offers hand-woven silk nets as well. Although their service isn’t cheap, it is always the best option when the existing antique pockets are worn out, ripped, or the leather is destroyed.Hood also offers a large variety of pool table covers. Typically, when a customer wants a quality pool table cover, we will measure the table, determine the type and radius of the pockets, determine the length of the skirt, and determine whether or not the customer wants a foam insert. All of these factors insure that you, the customer, will end up with the perfect cover for both your table and your home’s decor.
We have learned that as of 6/30/18, Hood Leather will be closing. Their pool table covers division has been bought out. However, their pocket manufacturing division hasn’t. We are very sorry to see them go.
I have found that customers basically fall into 3 different groups:
The home user who wants a decent table to play on at a reasonable price. For this customer, I recommend the Championship “Invitational” cloth with Teflon. This will give years of good service for about half the price of the top-of-the-line cloths. Additionally, a larger variety of colors are available in this line.
Bar owners and amusement companies that want a good compromise for the widest array of customers. Not all pool players are the same. So, in this instance, the table owners will want to appeal to the most number of people while maximizing their profits. For this, I would recommend the “Valley Teflon Ultra” with a backing for even more durability.
The customer who wants the best he/she can get. With all the benefits of Championship’s “Pro-Am 3020” and “Tour Edition 3030”, customers have a myriad of reasons for choosing these two cloths. Whether it’s because of their extended lives, excellent play, or just the satisfaction of knowing that you’re playing on the best, if your budget permits, you can’t go wrong with either of these two cloths.
All of the above cloths (with the exception of their “Pro-Am 3020” and “Tour Edition 3030”) are available with backing for commercial applications. If you’re unfamiliar with backed cloth, here’s what it is… an additional piece of thin (typically white) fabric is bonded to the under-side of the cloth. This gives the cloth additional durability IN COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS. Although I have seen this type of cloth used in the home setting, I STRONGLY discourage its use. Since maintenance on a pool table is often done years after the recommended intervals, backed cloth will break down faster than it’s un-backed counterpart. The glue that holds the two pieces of cloth together will deteriorate faster than the cloth itself. This means that your cloth will be looser faster. Championship is the best. Bar none! Their sales staff is very friendly, helpful, and they know their stuff! Their cloths perform equal to (in some cases) and exceed (in all other cases) all of their competition. That’s why we use them!