I was watching the television show "Storage Wars" last night. Yes, my wife and I enjoy shows like that. We also watch "Shipping Wars" and "Pawn Stars" and "The Pickers". Anyway, they beeped out the word "balls" when one of the guys said "balls to the wall". Why? Didn't they know the origin or the meaning of that phrase? Do you? If not I will tell you, if you do, I will tell you anyway.
The most modern meaning was what I think of when it is used. Pushing a throttle lever to the maximum. Like in an airplane or a boat. During the air battles in WW2, the pilots used that term to indicate that they were going as fast as possible. In most boats there are two levers and most have a ball on the top to hold on to. The throttle lever is pushed forward as far as it goes for full throttle. The same in airplanes, the throttle lever is shoved to the wall for full power.
OK, that saying has been around longer than there were airplanes. So what do you think it meant way back then? On steam engines there is a mechanical regulator that is actually a pair of balls mounted to a hinged lever arm which, as it spins more rapidly, forces the balls out to near horizontal, or pointing to the walls of the boiler room. Hence, balls to the wall meant full throttle, thus full speed. So when ever we go full speed or as fast as we can and push it to our limit, we are going balls to the wall. Of course, I don't believe in doing that anymore. Takes too much energy (grin). Now, take it easy but if you have to go balls to the wall today, be careful and be safe, you hear?