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GAMAGE Lathes
Department & Mail-order Store, London

Gamage were a department store in London who also ran a widely-advertised and successful general mail-order business; they flourished until the early 1960s, when their advertisements gradually petered out. Their catalog listed a wide range of appealing items, amongst which were a number of small lathes, some made Portass in Sheffield, others by the London firm of Ross and Alexander (who also marketed their lathe using the "Randa" brand) and early versions of the Myford ML1 and ML2.
The Portass version, illustrated below, was based on the Company's Model S and advertised in the mid 1950s as being available in two centre heights of 3 and 3
5/8", each with a between-centres capacity of 12.5". The lathe was supplied complete with 10 changewheels, a catchplate and a threaded but rough-finished spare backplate. There was no mention in the advertisements of either a countershaft or motor, and these would, no doubt, have added a considerable amount to the advertised price of 27 : 19 : 6d.  A smaller Portass lathe, also badged "Gamages", was based on one of the early Portass models, and also sold with ZYTO markings - an article explaining the origins and development of early Portass lathes can be found here. Although Portass, Ross & Alexander and Myford are known suppliers it is believed that other makes were also re-branded and, should you have a Gamage lathe of any type, or any literature advertising Gamage lathes, the writer would appreciate hearing from you.

A Gamage lathe from the 1950s (now in the USA) showing the special headstock as well as some well-engineered departures from standard by a previous owner: a Myford ML10 cross-feed screw and bracket have been fitted to the cross slide, a "stop" fitted to control the tailstock offset and a graduated dial fitted to the tailstock end of the leadscrew.

The much improved and more rigid headstock used on some examples of the Model S was also specified for the Gamage version.  It used an entirely different casting, with the front section brought up level with the centre lines of the bearings together with a section cast in below the left-hand bearing to allow the fitting of a tumble-reverse mechanism - although it is doubtful if the option was ever fitted.

Gamage version of the Portass Model S. The taller tailstock of this particular example (in comparison to the Standard Portass S below) is obvious.

A poor quality picture but one that confirms some Gamage versions of the Portass Model S had the rare, improved design of more rigid headstock. 

An original mid 1950s Model S Portass. This was the best-selling backgeared and screwcutting Portass lathe and made in considerable numbers both before and after WW2. Over the years at least four versions of the lathe were offered with their centre heights ranging from 3 to 3.625 inches - and with between-centre capacities from 12 to 16.5 inches.
Some Model S lathes were fitted with compound slide rests, others made do with a single, swivelling top slide. The version illustrated above, one of the last made in the mid 1950s, has a redesigned bed with vertical stiffening ribs cast into the section of the bed beneath the gap, a larger spindle and bearings, a compound slide rest and the dog-clutch lever is straight and points downwards - rather than being dog-legged and pointing upwards as on the earlier machines. Both flat and V-belt drive pulleys are found fitted to these lathes of 1950s, presumably to the choice of the original customer.

Not all Gamage lathes had the name cast into the bed--this examples uses a cheap, screw-on plate

A Gamage's advertisement from the 1930s

This, the smallest Gamage lathe yet found, was almost certainly a simplified version of the 2.5-inch centre height Portass made from 1927 onwards. Also badged as a Zyto (in a backgeared and screwcutting form) it was also sold - in an identical form - marked as the plain-turning "Junior", though if this version was sold by Portass, or a third-party tool dealer, is not known. Another version, badged Portass, was rather better equipped with a full compound slide rest and a leadscrew supported in bearings at both ends. The Gamages, built down to the lowest price possible, made do with a swivelling top slide and an overhung leadscrew held at the tailstock end only. The tailstock could not be set over, though on one of the Portass versions it could.
The model shown here has non-original and larger V-pulleys in place of either the narrow flat or V-type designed to take a round leather rope.

Another Gamage, not branded and fitted with a single swivelling toolslide (the tailstock is not original)

Myford ML.1. This would have been one of the re-branded lathes sold by Gamage from around 1934 until 1939

A Gamage's advertisement from 1957 showing a Portass-built lathe


E-Mail   Tony@lathes.co.uk 
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GAMAGE Lathes
Department & Mail-order Store, London