How do they make worry balls?

Trevor Jones wrote:


If Steve couldn't realize that intuitively, I don't think that this is the best newsgroup for him to be reading and posting to just yet.
Maybe we could all chip in and buy him one of these <G>:
http://www.labsupply.com.hk/Sci-Ed%20phy%20Ball%20and%20Ring%20Set.htm
Jeff (Ducking...)
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Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)

"My luck is so bad that if I bought a cemetery, people would stop dying."
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On Thu, 15 Jul 2004 10:14:54 -0600, Trevor Jones

Even if the brass did shrink so much the balls were not even close to the same size. I suppose, if ball bearings were used some shrinkage might dislodge them. But if the depressions had any kind of a rounded edge, and you can bet nobody is going to place cannon balls carefully enough to avoid this, the balls would just ride up onto the rounded edge. I can imagine some old salt making this up and telling it to wide eyed boys. ERS
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Don't think so -
Ships master wanted the shot as low in the ship as possible at all times, not laying around a gundeck - 30 cannonballs would weigh between 180 and 960lbs per gun.... On a ship of the line you'd have about 35-110 tonnes of weight exactly where you didn't want it, especially when the guns where run out. A ship of the line usually didn't carry 30 round shot per gun of the larger calbre, One 32 pounder could penetrate 3' solid oak after a 1000ft flat tragectory, or 2000ft with a skip off the surface. After half a dozen bradsides like that usually one or other ship wasn't there any more, or if it was not many guns where still firing.
Stacking round shot on gun decks would also create the danger of their breaking free and rolling around loose on deck whenever the ship encountered rough water, which for the Brits was often. It's a lot more likely these things would roll off through motion than any supposed different in thermal expansion.
Cast Iron doen't rust that much, and if the idea of brass was to stop the shot rusting to an iron plate then why wouldn't the shot in the tiers above rust to each other? The ships 'cleared decks' when gunnery took place, which meant knocking out partitions, dropping hammocks or what ever it took to give enough space for the six men in the gun crew to move around it and for the guns aiming and recoil. No room what so ever for neat piles of cannonshot and a cannon and crew. The other reason for clearing the decks was to reduce the materials that an inbound shot might hit and splinter around the inside of a gundeck. For this reason powder was only bought up when needed.
'Immediate use' is a bit off too, since even the best Brit crews fired once every 90 seconds or so. The French and Spanish every 2-2 1/2 minuites. Shot and powder where bought up from the locker's and a few (usually half a dozen) ready-use shot of a variety of types where stored on the gundecks in wooden racks. Heavier shot where carried up in bowsers. No monkeys here, other than the kids doing the carrying. A gun crew would change shot type several times in an exchange of fire so 30 round shot where not needed.
HMS Victory and Greenwich used to have an educational piece as part of the tour, according to them a 'Brass Monkey' was a small brass cannon from the time of transition from bronze to iron, usually swivel mounted that used stone ball or cylinder shot, both of inconsistent size and shape. 'Freezing a brass monkey' either refered to the cannon shrinking enough that *some* shot wouldn't fit so slowing the reload, or 'Freezing the tail off a brass monkey' was the tail being the handle at the end of the gun used for aiming which reportedly broke when levering a piece around on the pivot.
Another story is apparently pawn brokers where originally known as brass monkeys and the three brass balls hung outside the shop has something to do with the idea, \\
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Jeff wrote:

Were they referred to as "powder monkeys" on ships?
The American Heritage Dictionary says:
powder monkey
NOUN:    Slang One who carries or sets explosives.
A gun

A line remembered from my high school days...."Meet me in front of the pawnshop Honey, and you can kiss me under the balls".
On a soberer note, The Medici families in Italy were moneylenders in Europe. Lengend has it that one of the Medicis in the employ of Emperor Charles the Great fought a giant and slew him with three sacks of rocks. The three balls or globes later became part of their family crest, and ultimately, the sign of pawnbroking.
Jeff
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Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)

"My luck is so bad that if I bought a cemetery, people would stop dying."
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Yup, boys carrying powder where powdermonkeys,
The shot carriers where something else, don't know what. The larger shot carriers where Bowsers, both the person and the rope sling they carried the heavier shot (32-64lbs) in. According to one of the naval histories I've got, a bowser went on to be anything that carried anything heavy, as opposed to a lighter, a barge that carried the heavy stuff like water, shot and powder..

never knew that one, great thing about news groups
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Nice post. Two notes though.
How metals behave on land and how they behave at sea are two very very different things. For wooden boatbuilding Silicon bronze is used. A very specialised alloy. There are numerous alloys that could be used and that have been tried. And note that the nails are under coats of very very expensive paint that make a ferraris paint seem like fingerpaint by comparison. And if you visit any naval museum or yard or talk to an old sailor he'll tell you they spent most of their time stripping off the new rust and putting coat after coat of paint over warships. Saltwater over time is extremely corrosive stuff. Thus the extensive use of Brass and brass alloys.
Another thing i 'discovered' from the history channel that a historian on one of their digs (when they arent "all world war 2 all the time!" channel) is that the cannon balls were rarely uniform size and tended to have to be made up for each cannon. So each time a ship of the line hit port they couldnt just stock up on a few hundred cannon balls.. they had to literally have them made up for each cannon. Out of all the finds on the dive the historian seemed most intrigued by this. And you can imagine how accurately they likely made spheres 3-400 years ago. Which actually makes your criticism of the story seem even more on target.
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Most of the ones I have look like they were created by placing a design using copper wire on a hollow ball and filling the areas with plastic. At that point some surface grinding would be necessary.
I have several pair of these retrieved from Hong kong. They do have chimes inside. (They make noise when you shake one.)
They also are good for exercising the fingers. It is best to start with the smaller size and work up to something more substantial. One should be able to rotate the two balls in either direction (smoothly) in one hand without banging the balls together.
On my last trip I bought two solid marble balls in Melbourne that are about three inches in diameter. Anyone who thinks you don't exercise the fingers should try these. I use them every day and after about five minutes the muscles in the forearm will let you know that they are getting exercised. It took a while to be able to handle this larger size. They also had solid steel balls about the same size. I passed on those and now regret that decision.
I don't believe anyone would use these where the sun don't shine.
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