Balls, and a Brass Monkey.....

Discussion in 'Humor - Jokes - Games and Diversions' started by tacmotusn, Nov 7, 2010.

  1. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn RIP 1/13/21

    This one is for all you land lubbers and other scurvy dogs with no proper school learnin'....
    Betting you didn't know this!

    In the heyday of sailing ships, all warships and many freighters carried cannons. Those cannons fired round iron cannon balls. It was necessary to keep a good supply near the cannon. However, How to do so, and keep them from rolling around 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 problem.... how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding or rolling out 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.' (All this time, you thought that was an improper expression, didn't you.)
  2. Dracomeister

    Dracomeister Monkey+

    Ar, Mate, Grog fer the crew and another rum fer me! Ya could tell em the truth about "Balls to the wall" too!
  3. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Falco Peregrinus

    The term "balls to the wall" originated with James Watt's invention of the centrifugal governor used on early steam engines (circa 1774). Centrifugal governors are mechanical regulators that consisted of a pair of hinged lever arms with a ball on the end of each arm, as the engine sped up the centrifugal force caused the arms to raise up closing a valve. If you adjust the regulator so that the arms go to horizontal (with the balls pointing to the wall) without closing the valve you are not limiting the speed of the engine.

    It has been mistakenly attributed to modern aircraft pilots, under the following premise: The "balls" are knobs atop the plane's throttle control. Pushing the throttle all the way forward, to the wall of the cockpit, is to apply full throttle.
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