Today in Motorcycle History

Starley Brothers

No. 34. 'Psycho' tricycle, made by Starley Brothers, Coventry, about 1886, and fitted with John Marshall Starley's patent automatic steering device, patent No. 8532/1885. By this ingenious apparatus (which is concealed in the main frame tube, immediately behind the steering head) the small steering wheel is kept in a straight line, and automatically returned to the straight after being diverted by the handlebar. To adjust the tension of the coil spring, which controlled the mechanism, the name-plate must be removed and a screw-driver inserted in the hole thus exposed. Note the front wheel mud-guard, a very early example of the "forward extension." Weight 76.5 lbs. Purchased in Ealing.

The name 'Psycho' was taken from a conjuring trick or illusion which, in 1885, was being presented by Messrs. Maskelyne and Cook, at the Egyptian Hall, London, and which took the form of a female figure which "automatically" played a game of whist with members of the audience who were invited to go upon the stage. Under the expert tutelage of the great magician Mr. J. N. Maskelyne, 'Psycho' generally won the game.

The firm of Starley Brothers was founded about 1875, the original works being in Fleet Street, Coventry. James Starley was the presiding genius, his three sons, James, John M., and William, actively carrying on the business.

Part of the firm's output consisted of tangent wheels, which it built under the elder Starley's patent, and supplied to Haynes and Jefferis.

In 1884 Starley Brothers moved to St. John's Works, and James Starley Junior ceased his connexion with his two brothers. John M. Starley died in September, 1928. His younger brother William lived considerably longer and was affectionately known throughout the Midlands as -"Bill".

Ultimately, in 1896, the firm was sold and amalgamated with the business of the Westwood Co, as Starley Brothers and Westwood Manufacturing Co.

Note the differential gear (James Starley Senior's patent No. 3388/1877) at end of axle.

William Starley invented the 'Starley Axle,' a live axle combined with a differential gear and four bearings all in line, in 1892, patent No. 7752. This is used on practically every tricycle to-day, and on nearly all motor-cars.

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