Straker-Squire (also known as Brazil Straker) was a British automobile manufacturer based in Bristol, and later Edmonton in North London.
The company was formed in 1893 at St Philips, Bristol, as Brazil, Straker & Co by the Irish Engineer J.P. Brazil and the London motor agent Sidney Straker. In 1899 Sidney Straker joined forces with Edward Bayley and went into production of steam wagons, joining in partnership with L.R.L. Squire in 1904 and production reached 200 steam wagons by 1906.
In 1907 the company moved into a new factory on Lodge Causeway, Fishponds, at first to manufacture commercial vehicles, including large numbers of early London Buses, and a French car design under licence. The company also produced and successfully raced a number of its own car designs.
When World War I started Sir Roy Fedden, their chief designer, convinced the company to take on aircraft engine repair and manufacture, and that arm of the company was taken over by Cosmos Engineering in 1918. The company built staff cars and lorries during the war, and afterwards all production moved to Edmonton in North London in 1919. Car production continued until 1926 and Sidney Straker was killed in a hunting accident not long afterwards.
Straker began by building engines for steam wagons. A "Bayley" undertype wagon, fitted with a Straker engine and de Dion boiler took part in the Second Liverpool Steam Wagon Trials 0f 1899.
By 1901 Straker were building an entire wagon This exchanged the previous gear drive to the rear axle with a chain drive. Although other steam wagons used chain drives, this was the first to use a single chain, with the differential mounted on the axle rather than the chassis, and with a chain to each wheel. The rear wheels were large in diameter and constructed on the traction engine pattern, with two rows of narrow built-up spokes. As these wheels were too large to fit under the load deck of the wagon, they were mounted outboard of it, requiring an extra-long axle. These wagons were sold by the 'Straker Steam Vehicle Co' with offices at 9 Bush Lane, London and the works in Bristol. They took part in the War Office Trials at Aldershot of 1901, where they were awarded £100, and 1902 By 1902 the rear wheels had been reduced in diameter and now had six broader spokes from a flat sheet: a single sheet for the 2 ton, doubled for the 5 and 7 ton models. The steam engine itself was a two-cylinder compound, with cylinders of 7" stroke and 4" and 7" diameter. The transmission was relatively crude, using open gears rather than the enclosed oil-bath that was in use amongst other makers, and indeed used for the high-speed engine of their 2 ton light tractor. Two gears were provided, but one was only intended for hill-climbing and could only be selected from alongside the engine, not from the driver's cab.
The boiler was Straker's own development of the original De Dion. It was a vertical water-tube boiler, constructed from four concentric tubes. The inner and outer pairs of tubes were joined to form two double-walled water jackets. Between these jackets ran numerous short, straight watertubes, sloping up slightly towards the centre. The central waterspace was higher than the outer space, acting as a steam dome. This also made the boiler's water level less sensitive to tilting when hill climbing, a great concern for many wagon makes. The boiler was fired by dropping fuel, usually gasworks coke, down a central firing chute. For cleaning every few months, the outer shell could be removed entirely.
In many ways the boiler was similar to, and a precursor of, the Sentinel of 1905. It did however require more labour to manufacture four shells rather than two, with considerably more tubes. The work of removing the boiler shell was also greater for the Straker, as it required the pipework and external fittings to first be removed.
For 1905, inspired by the new regulations, an almost completely new design was produced. This was a conventional traction engine-style overtype with a locomotive boiler.
No Straker steam wagons are known to have survived today.
The first pre-war models consisted of the Straker-Squire 16/20 and 12/14 Shamrock. Next, Fedden designed the 15 hp (11 kW) model in three versions, which were more conventional than later designs influenced by the company's experience in aeroengines. These 4-seater 15-20 hp models were developed over 6 years and in advertising were described as the best medium powered cars on the world market. A specially prepared 15 hp (11 kW) driven by Witchell took several records at Brooklands including the Flying Mile in 1910 at 95.54 mph (153.76 km/h) (21 hp class), and the same year saw class wins at the Aston Clinton, Caerphilly, Pateley Bridge and Saltburn Hill Climbs. 1914 saw similar success including 4th in the TT.
Production of the 15 hp (11 kW) was revived after World War I, which was joined by the large 6cyl 20/25, 24/80 and 24/90 models. The 24/90 was light, quick and noisy, it was guaranteed to meet 70 mph (110 km/h) and was priced at the 1919 Olympia Motor Show initially at £1,600. Straker's nephew H "Bertie" Kensington Moir of Aston Martin fame tested the prototype at Brooklands and set a class record lap at 103.76 mph. The final cars built by Straker-Squire were the lighter 4cyl 10/20 and 12/20 models.
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