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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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?
 

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I've tried to debunk this one for years. My rationale is simply that if such a device as a "brass monkey" or triangular brass plate with holes in it, had been used aboard ship, they would have been found on shipwrecks. To the best of my knowledge, no such device has ever been recovered during an underwater salvage operation. Nor does a single one survive in any museum anywhere.
 

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That is a well known story, Xflash, and welcome to the forum! It does sound good, but unfortunatly, the facts really don't support it. Like Cannonmn said, none have ever been found in shipwrecks, but I personally like to tell that story! BoomLover
 

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Oh it is a great story ! And should have been true . Just because !

So then what does the expression mean? How does a Brass Monkeys Balls actualy freeze off ?

What are the the possibilities ? Too numerous to .....yep lets just move on ..... :p

But I like the explanation in Wikipedia for a Parrott Gun .... ! It seems there where too many ....birds in Ny . or Washington ,some old ol ladies hat got pooped on and ....boom the war was on ....????

strange but true Gary
 

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