Reply To: Lubricants for early marine engines
According to S C Gilfillan, Inventing the Ship, Chicago, Follett Publishing. Co., 1935 p. 129, tallow, rapeseed (colza) oil and congeners were used until 1847. After that date, petroleum products …mineral oil. Animal and Vegetable oils broke down into glycerin and stearic acid, which was corrosive to hot metal. According to Breakdowns. Reed’s Helpful hints to seagoing engineers, (1917) p.156. Sperm oil had less fatty acid content than vegetable oils. If the bearing became sufficiently hot, the lubricant could catch fire, and the white metal forming the bearing melt.
The reason for using palm oil in Nigeria would be its ready availability and low price.