So the topic today is about as polar opposite to something I would normally speak about which is typically racing related. In the racing world everything is about fast light and smart. Durability is usually sacrificed in lieu of lightweight parts that free up horsepower and make it through a rebuild or 2. "Big, dumb and slow gives machinery a long life" said Chuck Cart, Chief Engineer of the SS Badger as we stood between the 2 Skinner Unaflow steam engines. Yes that's correct steam engines, I finally had the chance to visit the engine room of the SS Badger. The Badger is the last coal fired, steam powered ship in the US and operates daily across Lake Michigan. "Welcome to 1953" Chuck elaborated. Except for some of the controls and required upgrades by the Coast Guard the ship is largely as it was when built in 1953. "Big, dumb and slow" equates to durability" Here is where we come in. Steam cylinder oils aren't exactly something you find on every street corner. Chuck explained the history of moving from company to company, as they would choose to discontinue the oils he chose for cylinder lubrication on the Badger. A couple years ago I took a ride across the lake on the Badger and fell in love with the ship. What a piece of history. In fact, the ship is a moving national landmark. Originally built to haul 32 100-ton rail cars this ship was saved and converted to passenger/car ferry service in the 90's. There is a lot of information on www.ssbadger.com about the ship, which I highly recommend looking at so there is no need for me to repeat it all here. I had the opportunity to develop an ISO 1000 Steam cylinder oil for the Badger. The ship converted to our oil last season and I had been waiting to get in front of the engines to be able to listen to the man who has maintained these things for over 25 years. The more I can learn about the ship the better resource I can be to help provide the durability he seeks to preserve this piece of history. So backing up a bit, when presented with the challenge of lubricating the cylinders in the Badger, our technical director Dr. Rudnick and myself discussed the service and collectively decided to apply some things we had been successful at in Top alcohol dragsters, Alcohol funny cars, as well as many of the Street Outlaws cars. At the initial glance super-heated steam at 400 PSI sounds pretty harsh but when you compare it to the alcohol cars where you have to deal with methanol, water and 1200 degrees EGT and a whole lot of boost it seemed like less of a challenge. We took the good chemistry from our racing experience and coupled it with the added chemistry required that is more specific to the ship and put it together. We analyzed samples of the oil currently being used and were able to demonstrate to Chuck that our oil would handle greater amounts of heat and do it at a lower wear rate. "We looked at the pistons and cylinders over the winter and everything looked great" Chuck said. Those are great words to hear. Making the trip to the ship was great from the learning perspective on things we can do to help. From the personal side I am just happy that this thing crosses the lake each day continuing to make history. The neat takeaways. Of course, steam is everything. There are many pumps, power generation etc. driven by turbines. The Unaflow engines have 4 journals that have high pressure and low pressure cylinder in line. The high-pressure cylinders are 22 Â½" bore and the low pressure cylinders are 51" bore. Each engine makes 4000 horsepower. Horsepower is everything right? Well not so much in this case. Considering the engines normally spin at a whopping 95 RPM you would expect big torque numbers. Boy I would have guessed wrong. With a combined horsepower of 8,000 horsepower that pales in comparison when you learn they each, make a measly 167,000 pound feet of torque! The engines have variable cam timing that allows the engines to be reversed so you don't have to worry about sending that torque through a transmission or gearbox. The Badger is a good environmental steward. They collect the ash from the 4 Foster Wheeler boilers which get offloaded and find their end of life in a nearly permanent form. It becomes added to concrete. The ship travels from Ludington, MI to Manitowoc, WI round trip daily. It takes on coal on the Manitowoc side. When in motion I was really surprised by how clean they have been able to get the thing to run. There is very little smoke out of the stack. I would have expected more. I realize they are looking to run very clean. I would highly recommend a trip on the Badger. If you are anywhere close during the season it is worth including the trip. Traveling in a motorhome? No big deal. It will hold a bunch of them. I saw semi's, motorhomes, U Haul trucks, cars, pickups, Motorcycles, and even bicycles. - David Ward Here are some images from the SS Badger The SS Badger The lower floor where larger vehicles are parked. There is a ramp and second level for smaller vehicles. There is equal storage down the other half of the ship. The trip is 4 hours across Lake Michigan There are 2 Skinner Unaflow Steam engines on the ship. From the side you can see the cylinders and cam shafts. The valves are operated with external rocker arms Looking in line with the crankshaft Down one level you can see the crankcase. The dash for steam engines. The desired conditions are telegraphed from the bridge. The condenser is top left. Steam drives turbines to power pumps and generators on the ship. Operators making sure the fire is well maintained in one of the Foster Wheeler boilers Unloading one of the semi's is a breeze. Complimentary Valet service returns your vehicle for you.