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Thread: cannon balls

  1. #1

    cannon balls


    It was necessary to keep a good supply of cannon balls near the cannon on old war ships. But how to prevent them from rolling about the deck was a major 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 dimples, called, for reasons unknown, a Monkey. But if this plate were made of iron, the iron balls quickly rusted to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make the plates of brass - hence, Brass Monkeys.

    Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and contracts more rapidly 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. And all this time, you thought that it was just a vulgar expression, didn't you? You must send this fabulous bit of historical knowledge to at least a few uneducated friends.
    Club Nova / avante membership 031

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Concord, Ca

    Re: cannon balls

    thats fabulous.

    Now, tell me about the origin of the story of the witch, her brass bra and that which was contained within.

    CCC Sterling # 416

  3. #3

    Re: cannon balls

    I'm not that old to remember that one.
    Club Nova / avante membership 031

  4. #4

    Re: cannon balls

    Anyone remember "Call my bluff"?

    Cos I think Jimcub's post is a bluff... see here ... onkey.html

    Also helps explain Nic's cryptic phrase.

  5. #5

    Re: cannon balls

    i cant believe you looked that up.

  6. #6

    Re: cannon balls

    A long time ago, when I were a lad, I visited some castles and one of the guides told us that the cannon ball story was a myth. It was seeing the story again today that prompted me to look it up.

    I'm interested to know if there's a myth associated with Nic's witch story. Now that would surely be a good one...

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