Thursday, August 24, 2017
The Soo - Engineers' Day
The last Friday in June is Engineers' Day in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Engineers have been important to the town as many of the industries depended on engineers for design and operation. Places that are off limits to the general public are open on this one day - the American Soo Locks, the US Coast Guard Station, and the Edison Cloverland Hydroelectric Plant. It also seems that this is the official beginning of summer in this northern latitude - late in the view of native Floridians.
The above US Coast Guard ship is an icebreaker, tasked with keeping the shipping lanes open in the Great Lakes during the winter.
This ship is named Biscayne Bay. Seems odd that an icebreaker would be named after a bay in warm Miami. When asked about this obvious conflict, the Coast Guardsman responded that all icebreakers were named after a bay.
The engineer's room on the Biscayne Bay is filled with gauges. There are many functions in the engine room to monitor.
In addition to all the gauges, the engine room can be monitored through a video. Rather than being in a hot, noisy engine room, the engineers can sit in air conditioning to accomplish their job. They have a few manuals for reference.
The smaller Coast Guard boats were also available to visit. This quick pursuit boat is a new design, replacing the earlier boat with orange inflatable sides.
The new boats are Metal Sharks, designed and built by the son of some friends and fellow DeFever Cruisers members. It was interesting to be able to see his design and construction and explore the boat.
A Canadian boat was also on display at the Coast Guard station. Clearly marked "Police" in large letters it looked like a Coast Guard cutter. It is, in fact, a Canadian Coast Guard boat, but in Canada the Coast Guard is not armed, they do not carry guns. So, on the rare occasions when armed forces are needed, they deploy the police boat.
The cutter is staffed with Royal Canadian Mounted Police, only here their mount is a ship rather than a horse. The RCMP were decked out in their dress uniforms.
The Edison Cloverland Hydroelectric plant is an amazing building and a historic site. The building is over a quarter mile long. It was built between 1898 and 1902, a grand engineering project.
A canal was dug around the city from the upper St. Marys River, above the rapids, to the lower river downstream. The 23 foot drop produces a lot of power that the plant turns into electricity. The canal is about 200 feet wide and runs rapidly - 7 mph or more - flowing 30,000 cubic feet of water a second. You would not want to fall into this canal.
The entire length of this long building is lined, shoulder to shoulder, with electric generators. Each generator has its own water turbine below, spinning the generator at 180 rpm, governed at that speed so that the electricity is a constant 60 cycles per second.
These massive generators were built in 1900 and all are still operational. The electrification of homes and business was just at the beginning stages when these were designed and constructed. It is amazing that these huge pieces of machinery are still running and, more so, that they have not been surpassed by newer designs and technology and, even more so, that they lasted over 100 years of use at 24 hours a day. Nothing today is built to last so long.
Engineers Day. An experience in technology and machinery.