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post #1 of (permalink) Old 06-07-2004, 02:44 PM Thread Starter
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Useless info & trivia

Bet you didn't know this!!!!

In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters
carried iron cannons. Those cannons fired round iron cannon balls. It
was necessary to keep a good supply near the cannon, but how to prevent
them from rolling about the deck?

The best storage method devised was 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 to prevent the bottom layer from
sliding or rolling from under the others.

The solution was a metal plate called a "Monkey" with 16 round
indentations. 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 "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, you thought that was an improper expression, didn't you?)
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