Times Spent Outdoors: Priceless!

Enjoy Some History

Little Did We Know!

Here's some needed information for you sailors who still have cannons or plan to place cannonw on your boats.

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 the problem. The 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, for reasons unknown, a "monkey." But, if this plate were made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make them of brass - hence, 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.

(And all this time, folks thought that was just a vulgar expression? You must send this fabulous bit of historical knowledge to at least a few of your intellectual friends.)


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