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Adept Shapers

Adept No. 1 Shaper

Literature is available for Adept machines


Together with a pair miniature lathes, the equally small Adept No. 1 and No. 2 shapers were made by a branch of the Portass family, F. W. Portass of Sellers Street, off Abbeydale Road, Sheffield, England , both before and after WW2.  The original models (indeed, most of the production run) were hand-operated and of similar construction - with the No. 2 being the larger of the two and sometimes fitted with an automatic cross feed. The table of the delightfully tiny No. 1 was 4.5" x 4", with a 3-5-inch high vertical T-slotted backing face and a ram travel of 4". The 2A had a more useful  7" x 6" table with vertical T-slots 6-inches high and a ram travel of 6.25".
During the early 1950s Mr. F .J. Haynes of Audenshaw, Manchester converted his hand-powered Adept No. 2 shaper to incorporate a powered ram; so impressed were Adept by this professional-looking design that they adopted a modified version of it for production. The heart of the alterations was a cleverly arranged casting bolted to the side of the ram guide that carried both pulley and gear shafts - and also performed as a guard to cover the side of the large drive gear. It is possible that some later 2A models may also have been fitted with a "geared down" cross-traverse feed to the head - although this is only a non-too-certain memory of the writer .
Many of these fine Adepts still find a use today in the hands of more knowledgeable and skilful enthusiasts and, with sharp tools, it is quite astonishing what a variety of useful work these little machines can do. In the harder economic times of the 1940s and 1950s they offered model engineers an inexpensive way of accomplishing tasks that would otherwise have involved a great deal of laborious, and usually inaccurate, hand-filing and cutting. Also made in (or exported to) Australia and marked (like the Adept lathes) as a TNC - the Adept shaper  (shown at the bottom of this page) may well be a model developed to include a powered ram - but of a different design to the English version. Of a rather more robust and complicated nature, this machine has yet to be confirmed as a genuine Adept or TNC machine though it certainly bears all the hallmarks of a professional, well-made product..
One might imagine that using a hand-operated shaper, even a little one like the Adept, is hard work, but this is not the case - though there are three basic points to get right: the first is tool sharpness, the closer to razor-sharp the better, with frequent attention to the top edge by an oil stone to maintain it; the second is to resist the temptation to move the handle too quickly while also taking time taken to establish the best rate for the job in hand. For example, fifty to sixty strokes a minute by hand on a 5 to 6-inch stroke machine might feel comfortable but, allowing for lost time at the end of each half stroke, this gives at tool speed of over 60 feet/minute - which is 30% greater than that recommended for high speed steel on cast iron. Experimenting with slower strokes will, surprisingly, often produce better results. Finally, the third consideration, which is actually two rolled into one, cutting depth and feed rate: it is possible, if you have the patience, to obtain an almost mirror finish with a very fine cut and the slowest possible feed. But it does take time…..

Adept No. 2 in remarkably original condition: 8" wide, 15" deep and 17" high. This example was bought from the factory as an ex-demonstration machine and, before delivery was given a second coat of blue paint. It remained in the hands of father and son for over fifty years.

An Adept 2 with its original cranked toolpost spanner

Prototype Adept No. 2 powered shaper developed in the early 1950s by Mr. F.J.Haynes of Audenshaw, Manchester, England and, in modified form, put into production by the makers, Portass, at their works in Sheffield. The triangular casting at the side of the ram (carrying both drive shafts) was later further modified to form a guard over the large gear as shown in the pictures below.

Catalogue illustration of the rare 1950s Adept No. 2 powered model

Above and below: this unusual powered version of the Adept No. 2 is mounted on a substantial cast-iron base and driven by a mechanism at the rear which is a miniature replica of that commonly found on much larger shapers. A feed is also arranged, through a compound gear train, to provide a variable-rate power feed to the ram-head carriage.
Whilst this may well be a one-off conversion by a skilled amateur, there remains the possibility that it was either produced by Adept themselves, or possibly by TNC, an Australian company responsible for either importing, or copying, the Adept lathe.

Also made in (or exported to) Australia and marked (like the Adept lathes) as a TNC - the Adept shaper  (shown at the bottom of this page) may well be a model developed to include a powered ram - but of a different design to the English version. Of a rather more robust and complicated nature this machine has yet to be confirmed as a genuine Adept or TNC machine but it certainly bears all the hallmarks of a professional product..

Very rare (and now sought-after) Adept No. 2 powered shaper



Adept No. 1 Shaper

Literature is available for Adept machines

Adept Shapers
email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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