Argus C Series Camera Internal Mechanisms
A chronological progression of significant changes in the internals of Argus C series cameras. Serial numbers of known models that are essentially identical to the examples shown are listed. Approximate year of production for the listed serial number shown in parentheses after.
Copyright 2010-2014 by Phillip G. Sterritt
email Phillip G. Sterritt
Last updated 9/21/2014.
To give a little visual perspective on what's shown here, and to showcase another beautiful bit of work by Mike Reitsma and Pam Buckley, here is their meticulously-crafted cutaway of a C-2 with flash sync added. Note the red-painted shutter blade, showing how it and its two companions lie in the shutter housing, as well as the nicely-polished copper flash contact set behind the cocking lever. As if that wasn't enough...
...here is their cutaway of the 50mm f/3.5 lens supplied with the C Series cameras. It'll be mighty hard to tear yourself away from these images, but there are actually some kind of interesting examples of the insides of various vintage C Series cameras if you scroll down.
C 2704C (1938)
Submission from Tom Heckhaus, at the time he was restoring the camera. An original C with the two-range, 'fast/slow' (f-s) switch on the front below the shutter cocking lever. Shutter speeds are regulated by a combination of tension setting of the drum spring, upper right, and the 'fast/slow' switch setting, which sets one of two speed ranges by adjusting the depth of engagement in the escapement by positioning the small pin visible on the lefthand side of the escapement. There is no linkage mechanism from the shutter speed dial to the escapement as seen on later models, hence the great empty cavity in the lower right of this picture. Also note the pin on the shutter spring drum, which fits into an arc-shaped machined-out space in the faceplate. In later models where the drum spring cavity remains but the coil spring is used, a similar arc-shaped cavity can be seen in the body -- Tom thinks they flipped the drum over so the pin was underneath on the single-range shutter. Rangefinder mechanism has been removed.
Description of the f-s C and later shutter mechanisms
C 3040C (1938)
C 4128C (1938)
C 9376C (1938)
C 14292C (1938)
Second, single-range shutter design. Note the addition of linkage between the shutter speed dial and the escapement. A pin on a beam fits into the triangular brass piece in the lower right, connecting the cam on the shutter speed dial to the linkage. No more tension-setting pin on the shutter spring drum, since now only the escapement controls shutter speeds and the spring tension is constant. Bottom of shutter cocking mechanism, where it engages the escapement, has been reshaped. Also note crude removal of bakelite under escapement, presumably to accommodate the linkage mechanism. Thanks to Richard Mueller for 4128C.
C-2 43054C (1939)
C-2 53191C (1939)
Note redesign of bakelite under escapement.
C-2 48897C (1939)
This is a model C-2 to which flash sync has been added. Note the rather crude removal of bakelite in the channel created for the black wire below the rangefinder housing. Also note how much of the side of the body to the left of the shutter cocking assembly has been machined away to accommodate the mount for the contact attached to the wire.
C-3 C314965 (1939)
Early C-3 with large flash sync holes.
C-3 C318704 (1940)
C-3 C318801 (1940)
C-3 0334222 (1940)
Channel and machining for flash sync wire and contact look to be more cleanly formed than C314965.
C-2 0269625 (1940)
C-2 0275846 (1941)
C-2 0285620 (1942)
The drum shutter spring has been replaced with a coil spring. The molded plastic guide for the old drum-based spring to the right of the shutter housing looks to have been machined away to make room for the new metal fitting on the end of the shuttlecock ribbon that attaches to the coil spring.
C-3 0384360 (1942)
The drum shutter spring has been replaced with a coil spring.
C-3 27948 (1945-46)
Early post-WWII camera. Identical to late prewar models, including escapement.
C-3 45605 (1945-46)
C-3 (1)02700 (1946-47)
New escapement. '02700' has been determined to be one of the mis-numbered, later cameras -- its serial number should almost certainly be 102700. This probably explains its later escapement. '05717' was formerly listed with '02700', but closer examination of it shows it has replacement parts that calls its representation of the period into question.
C-3 80804 (1946)
Unexpected return of the older escapement.
C-3 (1)09502 (1946-47)
C-3 175300 (1947)
C-3 786671 (1952)
C-3 819460 (1952)
Redesigned body, no more drum spring cavity. Smaller shuttlecock spring attachment. '09502' has been determined to be one of the mis-numbered, later cameras -- its serial number should almost certainly be 109502.
C-3 991220 (1954)
C-3 1003997 (1954)
Another Tom Heckhaus find (1003997, 991220 from Allen Ambridge). Two flared places at 4 and 8 o'clock in the circular plastic housing around the shutter blade mechanism. First appearance of the staked-together escapement (both examples), though the one in the next camera is still screwed together.
C-3 1366988 (1955)
Another Tom Heckhaus find. The shutter cocking assembly is thinner, and the part that engages the escapement now has a double-bend to raise it to the original level of the cocking mechanism. The rangefinder has been redesigned, with a coil spring added, and its housing has also been reworked, probably to create room for the new accessory shoe on top.
C-3 1434742 (1956)
C-3 1448243 (1956)
C-3 1449768 (1956)
Escapement is now staked together instead of screwed together. If it could have been disassembled for repair before, it can't now. Shutter blade assembly has been redesigned -- three circular openings at the blade pivot points are now triangular and tabs have been added below the attachment screws.
C-3 1648548 (1957)
Right-side (as seen in the picture) flash contact plate is much larger.
Match-Matic C-3 1829346674 (1959)
Standard C-3 1925361643 (1965)
Standard C-3 1926172475 (1966)
No changes seen in the eight-year run of the Standard C-3 and Match-Matic C-3.