Thursday, December 02, 2010

Freezing Monkeys

Now as winter descends upon (And the rest of Europe it seems) - I was reminded of the saying it is "cold enough to freeze the balls of a brass monkey"

And wondered where did this piece retoric originate from - have you wondered also ?

Well for those of you,who like me have inquistive mind -read on

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. However, 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.

However, 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 cannonballs would come right off the monkey..

Thus, it was quite literally, 'Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.'

So now who know !!


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home