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[1]. 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[2].

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.

Straker-Squire Share Certificate

Straker-Squire share certificate from 1917.

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.

Steam wagons Edit

Straker boiler, section (Rankin Kennedy, Modern Engines, Vol III)

1902 boiler, section

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Straker began by building engines for steam wagons. A "Bayley" undertype wagon, fitted with a Straker engine and De Dion boiler[3] took part in the Second Liverpool Steam Wagon Trials 0f 1899.[4]

By 1901 Straker were building an entire wagon [3] 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.[5] These wagons were sold by the 'Straker Steam Vehicle Co' with offices at 9 Bush Lane, London and the works in Bristol. [6] They took part in the War Office Trials at Aldershot of 1901, where they were awarded £100,[7] and 1902[8] 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[3], 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.[9] 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.[3] This was a conventional traction engine-style overtype with a locomotive boiler.

No Straker steam wagons are known to have survived today.

Car models Edit

The first pre-war models consisted of the Straker-Squire 16/20 and 12/14 Shamrock. Next, Fedden designed the 15 hp 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 driven by Witchell took several records at Brooklands including the Flying Mile in 1910 at 95.54 mi/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 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 mi/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[10]. The final cars built by Straker-Squire were the lighter 4cyl 10/20 and 12/20 models.

The full list of Straker-Squire models are:[11]:

  • CSB. 1906. 25hp 4900 cc T-head engine. Imported French Cornilleau-Ste Beuve model. Competed in 1907 the Heavy-Car Tourist Trophy.
  • 16/20. 1907, 4cyl 2919 cc engine.
  • 12/14 Shamrock. 1907, 20hp 4cyl 2069 cc water-cooled engine, 10 ft in length.
  • 14/16. 1909, 4cyl 2022 cc 15 hp engine, 12 ft in length. Completed in the RAC 2,000 Miles Trial and was placed 3rd in class.
  • 15 hp Mark 1. 1910 model, 4cyl 2851cc 5-valve engine, 12 ft in length.
  • 15 hp Mark 2. 1911-13 model. As above but heavier and 13 ft in length.
  • 15 hp Mark 3. 1914-22 model. Improved 4cyl 3054 cc side valve engine and 13 ft in length.
  • 20/25. 1920-25, 6cyl 3920 cc engine with overhead cam, 70 bhp at 2400 rpm, 14 ft 2 in (4.3 m) in length. 75 mi/h in normal spec.
  • 24/80. 1920-25. As 20/25 but with longer wheel base.
  • 24/90. 1921. 6cyl 4962 cc overhead valve engine. 67 built.
  • 10/20. 1923-25. 4cyl 1460 cc overhead valve engine, a lighter car of various bodywork length between 12 ft and 13 ft 92+ built.
  • 11/28. 1926. 4cyl 1460 cc overhead valve engine, 30 bhp, 12 ft in length.
  • 12/20. 1926. As above but with wider track.

Bus manufacturing Edit

Straker-Squire began by supplying a small number of buses to GWR road motor services before expanding rapidly to cater for the London Bus market. In 1905 work included the bus chassis used for Royal Army Medical Corps ambulances[12] and they manufactured 50 omnibus chassis and engines for London buses[13]. By 1909 Straker-Squire dominated the market and the factory in Fishponds supplied 70% of London's buses[14]. Great Easton of London took delivery of another 22 in bright yellow chrome livery in 1911. Post war the A-type bus in chassis and/or body form sold very well.

Truck models Edit

The first trucks built were German designed Büssing 2cyl trucks under licence from 1906. Truck models included[15]. :

  • Büssing 3-ton. 1906-09. 4cyl worm drive gasoline engine. German design built under licence.
  • Colonial 5-ton. 1910.
  • Military 3/4-ton. 1913-18. Built in large numbers for the British Army.
  • A type 5-ton. 1919. Semi-forward-control, 4cyl worm drive engine.

Commercial vehicle production moved to Twickenham during the war. After car production ended in 1926 a limited number of bus and truck chassis and Straker-Clough trolley buses were also built.

References Edit

  1. Bristol Aeroplane Company Ltd Retrieved on 2007-11-26.
  2. Motormarques: Straker-Squire Retrieved on 2007-11-28.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Norris, William (1906). Modern Steam Road Wagons, 88-91. 
  4. Norris, Modern Steam Road Wagons, p. 151
  5. "Straker Steam Vehicle Co, 1901" (photograph). Graces' Guide].
  6. "Straker Steam Vehicle Co". Graces' Guide].
  7. "Straker Steam Vehicle Co, 1902". Graces' Guide].
  8. Kennedy, Rankin (1912 edition of 1905 book.). The Book of Modern Engines and Power Generators III. London: Caxton, 205-209. 
  9. Norris, Straker, p. 31-33
  10. UK Car: Straker-Squire Retrieved on 2007-11-28.
  11. Culshaw, David & Horrobin, Peter The Complete Catalogue of British Cars Veloce 1997 ISBN 0-9541-0639-3 p380.
  12. Steam Traction: Days of Steam Retrieved on 2007-11-28.
  13. 20th Century London: LGOC Retrieved on 2007-11-29.
  14. Bartlett, John Images of England, Fishponds Tempus 2004 ISBN 0-7524-3315-6 p117
  15. AutoLemon: Truck Straker-Squire Retrieved on 2007-11-29
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