Wondering about wild grapes

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wondering about an old saying.

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?

10 comments:

  1. Maybe there should be a phrase for retirees, "balls in the basement".

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  2. I was wondering yesterday about the phrase - apple of my eye - to mean something prized beyond measure. I could look it up myself, or I can put the bug in your ear and let you do it for me. :)

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  3. I'll just stick to peddle to the metal. ;)

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  4. Jimkabob, I don't have a basement. . .

    Shadowmoss, probably the oldest reference is in the Bible. See Deuteronomy 32:10.

    David, I will agree with that. Means the same thing only peddle to the metal is more modern and up to date. No sense living in the past, although I sometimes do.

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  5. Replies
    1. I am sure glad you did. Just don't push the Flying Totoise balls to the wall. . .

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  6. butterbean carpenterJuly 10, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    Howdy DD,
    I knew what it meant, because one of my 'uncles' was a 50 year engineer on the Cotton Belt Railroad... Now if you want to put the peddle to the metal you'd better be selling a whole lot of something for 'hard' metal currency, but if you're going a 'hunert miles an hour' like ol' #1 Billy Bob you need to shove the PEDAL to the metal... Can you believe a goat can run a 'hunert' miles an hour???

    Hope you have a puredee restful HAPPY DAY!!!

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    1. I come from a railroading family on both my Dad's and my Mom's side. Both grandads worked in the glorious age of steam, one an engineer and one a conductor. Billy Bob tells stories at a 'hunert' miles an hour. I had the privlage to meet him one time.

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  7. Wow, I would have never associated the phrase with full speed ahead! You are a font of knowledge!

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    1. My problem is I can't remember a lot of things except trivia (grin). Books help a lot and so does the internet. Most of the stuff I write I already knew but would research it to get the facts right, if possible.

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