Brass Monkey

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AndyMon

SatelliteGuys Pro
Supporting Founder
Sep 8, 2003
395
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Long Island, NY
Here's some interesting trivia about a saying I've heard all my life.

It was necessary to keep a good supply of canon balls near the cannon on
ships. But how to prevent them from rolling about the deck was the problem.
The best storage method devised was to stack them as a square-based pyramid,
with one ball on top, resting on four, resting on
nine, which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be
stacked in a small area right next to the cannon. There was only one
problem -- how to prevent the bottom layer from
sliding/rolling from under the others. The solution was a metal plate with
16 round indentations, called a Monkey. But if this plate was made of iron,
the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem
was to make Brass Monkeys. Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much
more and much faster than iron when chilled. Consequently, when the
temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much
that the iron cannon balls would
come right off the monkey. Thus, it was quite literally, "cold enough to
freeze the balls off a brass monkey"!
 

AndyMon

SatelliteGuys Pro
Supporting Founder
Sep 8, 2003
395
1
Long Island, NY
Aww! I knew that but why'd ya have to go and spoil everything? This is the comedy forum, y'know? Otherwise, I'd have posted in another place.
I still think it's a cute explanation!!
 
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