Manufactured from as early as 1930 until the early 1960s, the tiny "Adept" and "Super-Adept" lathes and shapers and were made in Sellers Street, off Abbeydale Road, Sheffield, England (and possible at the very narrow-fronted but deep factory building at 56 Garden Street in the same city) by a branch of the Portass family, F. Today they are sought-after items and using one provides a fascinating insight into times that were so much harder than our own. Although, by the most generous stretch of the imagination, these lathes cannot be called other than crude, they did provided the impecunious enthusiast with a way of getting his (and occasionally her) hands on very a hard-to-come-by product.A range of small hand-operated shapers and a tiny horizontal miller was also offered under the Adept name and proved very popular (a delivery time of twelve months was quoted in the late 1940s for the lathes) and are increasingly sought after today by more experienced model and experimental engineers who relish both the tremendous potential they have to solve machining problems - and the fun to be had from using a miniature version of a "real" machine tool. C and in the United States by the Adept Tool Company of 1342 Hampton Road, East Cleveland, Ohio, USA (now a residential address and probably so in the 1930s), T. C was a manufacturer of engineering tools who appear to have marketed their machines through Mc Phersons, a major supplier to industry but who also catered to the "home workshop" customer. Although a countershaft was not shown the foot-motor was, at 1 : 15s : 0d. badges, or manufactured in Australia, is not confirmed - but, as one T. The American model, identical to the Super Adept, was offered with a wider range of accessories than the UK model including collets, a milling slide, 4-jaw independent chuck, faceplate, drive dogs, a hand T-rest, an extended headstock spindle to take a 6-inch diameter speed-reducing pulley, tailstock chuck, cutting and milling tools, a 2-step replica of the headstock pulley, angle plate, Morse centres and a headstock thread mounted on a taper for use in the tailstock.
Fitted with a bolt-on compound slide, the ordinary version of the Adept used the top slide to take a cut which, like watch and clockmakers' lathes, had a slide with sufficient travel to cover a good proportion of the available between-centres' distance.
Although advertised in this form - fitted to a neat if perhaps unstable wooden stand complete with a treadle flywheel assembly - it is not known if the makers actually supplied such a complete kit or if it was just a "serving suggestion" for home construction.
My Adept lathe was bought in 1936, or possibly 1937, at Tyzack's in Old Street, London, where I lived at the time. C., the long-time contributor to Model Engineer Magazine, who made so many difficult engineering concepts and processes look easy. motor cycle and stationary engines - I took the tram to Old Street to buy my first lathe.
Adept USA also listed the same hand-operated shaper as sold in the UKF. Portass was not the only maker of miniature lathes in Sheffield; the Flexispeed was also manufactured there, with works in South Lane, some half a mile nearer to the city center than those occupied by Adept.
Unfortunately Adept failed to developed their lathe to keep up with the ever-increasing demands of now more affluent modeller and by the early 1960s was gone.