"Balls to the Wall" - credit 2003 archive posting
Posted by Keith Rennie on December 06, 2004
In Reply to: "Balls to the Wall" posted by B.Barclay on December 06, 2004
: The phrase is much older than Airplanes. It goes back at least 100 years to the days of the stationary steam engines and refers to the speed regulator that kept the output speed constant. The "balls" were attached to the outer horizontal corners of diamond shaped 4-link mechanism mounted vertically on a shaft that spun in proportion to the output speed of the main drive pulley or gear. The upper corner of the diamond was fastened to the shaft and the bottom corner was fastened to throttle that applied more or less steam to the engine. The faster the shaft turned the further the balls extended horisontally due to centrifugal force, and higher the bottom of diamond rose and the more steam was applied and the faster the engine ran. The engine's fastest speed was when it ran with the "balls to the walls."
: There is some advantage to being older than dirt!
This adds a bit more detail to an explanation already in the archives: =
on 26 Sept 2003 Paul littleton wrote:
In Reply to: Balls to the Wall posted by Art SC USA on September 18, 2003
The terms "Balls to the Wall" and "Balls Out" both refer to the flyball governer. As the rotational speed of the governer increases the balls move out toward the horizon (wall). That motion, coupled through various linkages has been used to control the speed of engines and or trigger safety devices once a certain speed is reached. "Going balls to the wall" simply means going fast.