Living with a Ford prefect model E93A: Part 2 – Starting the car

In part 1 of this series of articles we described the E93A Ford Prefect and discussed some of its idiosyncrasies, in particular we described replacing the valves and the indicators. Approximately 42,000 of the original model were produced before the Second World War and 160,000 after the war until it was restyled in 1953. Given that so few of these models were produced it is perhaps surprising that even today spare car parts can still be obtained online for this model. These are mostly from car salvage companies though there are also engineering companies that will tailor make special parts or modify parts from other models.

The car can be started with a starting handle. This is a car part which of course unheard of nowadays but back then the car electronics were very basic and keeping a reasonable amount of charge in those old batteries was quite difficult, especially in the winter months. The starting handle was a mixed blessing however. It was great for living with a flat battery but actually using it without causing physical injury and pain to yourself was quite tricky. The problem is that the handle would often kick back in the opposite direction to that in which you were turning it. It would do this with such sudden ferocity that it could twist your wrist quite badly, and with many people it became an operation to be feared. There are right ways and wrong ways to hand crank this car. The worst technique is to grip the handle with your hand, wrapping your fingers round it, and turning. When it kicks back, this will really hurt. A far better technique is to slowly turn the handle whilst feeling the engine compression build up. Just when the resistance to turning is the maximum means that the piston has reached the top of its stroke and the spark plug is just about to spark.

When you have reached this position hold the handle lightly with the palms of both hands and push it down rapidly. With luck the engine will start, but if not just keep repeating the process. Some people use a foot rather than the palm of their hands, which if probably even safer once you master the technique.

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