I remember the Startix device, as fitted to some Standard cars, when I was employed as a motor mechanic at Cyril Williams, Cleveland Street, Wolverhampton, in 1937 up to the outbreak of war, when the garage virtually closed down. If memory serves me correctly the Startix was fitted to 1935 to 1937 models, and was discarded on the 1938 models.
The ignition key had three positions, off, normal ignition and Startix. I remember well what trouble this device gave; in some cases we put it out of use. What the designer forgot was that no amount of Startix would start an engine with a blocked idling jet in the carburetter, and an engine that kept on stalling usually had something wrong with it; as you say in your article the result was a quickly run down battery. I look back at my time with Cyril Williams (who won a TT in the Isle of Man in the 1920s on an AJS motorcycle) with pleasant memories. The working conditions were ideal and the wages good. As we were mainly Standard agents most of our work was familiar. One job that has always stuck in my mind was after I had collected a Railton car with an electric change gearbox, which the owner said was sometimes a bad starter. I removed the distributor cap and placed it about 10 inches away from the distributor body. I then got someone to turn the engine over slowly whilst I observed the points. The ignition was switched on while I was doing this. To our consternation the engine started up and ran on one cylinder, and continued to run. I then saw the heftiest HT spark I have ever seen in my life, the spark was jumping the 10-inch gap from cap to body, what we did after that I cannot remember clearly. I have often thought about this peculiar happening, and have since decided that the coil had some shorted turns in the primary thus putting up the turns ratio resulting in increased secondary voltage, but this would also result in a heavy primary current which the battery would have trouble in coping with on a cold day, hence poor starting at times. I also saw the quick-wearing tyre at that time. A customer had a new tyre fitted one day and came back the next with it bald. When we checked the track it was toeing out 2.1/2 inches. That period put me off brake testers. All the cars set up on the brake tester, as perfect, always pulled to one side or the other when tried on a road test. Cyril Williams was one of the few garages capable of setting up Bendix cable-operated brakes quickly and accurately and also keeping so. My own Standard 12 with WD body was checked by the Police, and stopped from 20 m.p.h. in 9 feet repeatedly, and in 11 feet on the handbrake. Although the handbrake was an umbrella type it operated on all four wheels.
Cyril Williams ran a 20 h.p. Standard V8; I believe a 1938 model. It was basically a 12 h.p. model with an aluminium-headed side-valve V8 engine. It was a beautiful car and was streets ahead of a Ford V8. I knew of three V8s in Wolverhampton; one belonged to a corn merchant who complained of squeaks even when the car was standing still. We eventually traced the squeaks to a nest of mice in the head-lining. The mice were young ones and the nest was just like a small bird’s nest. I bet nobody else has got a bill for removing mice from a car.
Cherry Hinton J. E. Woodward