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History lesson of the day

Discussion in 'Off Topic Threads' started by mr.mark, Jun 17, 2009.

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  1. mr.mark

    mr.mark Member

    Feb 14, 2007

    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?
  2. BT-100dc

    BT-100dc Active Member

    Nov 7, 2008
    I tried to stack my 7 1/2 shot this way but didn't work. BT-100dc
  3. frostyman

    frostyman Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 2006
    This exact quote is on snopes.com as being false. Sounds good though.
  4. ivanhoe

    ivanhoe Well-Known Member

    Jan 29, 1998
    Oxford MA

    "But if this plate were made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it."

    I must say that is the first time I have ever heard of a projectile used with any type of closed breech firearm being anything but Lead.

    I am also curious as to why a loaded cannon's projectile doesn't rust into the chamber of said weapon while loaded on the high seas. Of course I am assuming that the cannons were left loaded all the time in time of war. Just some questions I have on this History Lesson.

    Bob Lawless
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