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Argus 21 Film Tearing

                                    The manual has been very helpful but my model 21 is slightly
                                    different. The flash speed switch is on top and there is a flap of
                                    metal that rolls down over the film take up reel. I try to feed the
                                    film end through the reel according to the manual but it always
                                    breaks. Any suggestions? Thanks.

I looked at my 21 last night. It was as Tom described. I
                                    don't think it
                                    is unusual for the instruction manual to differ in a few details from
                                    late production samples, but this might be a particulary telling case.
                                    The metal flap over the take-up spool is a bit perplexing but the spool
                                    itself seems to grab the film well if you feed enough leader into it and
                                    give it a turn or so to tighten down. I threaded the film through in the
                                    most straightforward manner possible (over the cylindrical cross piece 
                                    and under the flap) and it advanced and cocked the shutter OK but not
                                    quite in a "silky smooth" manner.
                                    I suspect that the origin of the film tearing is the extraordinary force
                                    that is necessary to tension the 21's shutter. This shutter must be re-
                                    lated to the C's shutter, perhaps even a little beefier. It could quite
                                    well be used (in a less humane time) as a leg trap for small animals.
                                    But of course the C had a lever for shutter tensioning: on the 21 all 
                                    this torque has to be supplied by the film sprocket holes as they engage
                                    the film sprocket gears. While examining all this with the back off I
                                    found a tendency for the film to be forced from the sprocket gears due
                                    to the torque reqired to cock the shutter. 
                                    Which brings me to the following assertion: The metal flap over the film
                                    take-up spool area is probably an attempt to force the film back down on
                                    to the sprocket gears to avoid the film buckling I observed as the shutter
                                    was tensioned. It clearly would facilitate this once the back is put back
                                    on after loading and it is hard to come up with any other value that the
                                    flap adds to the film transport path. The instruction book may not show 
                                    the flap because it may not have been added until prototypes were fully 
                                    tested or even after some early customer feedback was obtained and Argus  
                                    decided to bite the bullet and address this weakness. The serial number
                                    on my 21 is something like 0000007XXX. I wonder if earlier numbers have
                                    the film spool flap.  
                                    This is all of course pure conjecture or BS, take your pick. 
                                    Mike Reitsma 

I think you're onto the answer here.  On my Markfinder,
                                    there is a metal guard
                                    that pivots on the film spool axis.  Mine also has a small diameter roller on
                                    the "guard" assembly that seems designed to improve the angle that the film
                                    hits the take up spool and more importantly, forces the film to lay on a full
                                    90 degrees worth of sprocket teeth.  Given the high forces Mike talks about,
                                    getting that last drive tooth of engagement is probably important.  My film
                                    advance knob turns in the clockwise direction as viewed from the top deck.
                                    Were they all this way?  
                                    The 50mm Cintar on the 21 looks pretty similar to the C3's lens, though I
                                    notice that Argus once again made sure that there was not one shred of
                                    interchangeability between their various cameras.  Were there ever the
                                    equivalent of the Sandmars available for the 21?  
                                    I notice that the 21's lens thread is tantilizingly close to a Leica
                                    screwmount thread, but just a little bit smaller in diameter.  
                                    Carl Turner

  Mike, does the film turn the sprocket in your 21 which
                                    in turn sets (winds)
                                    the shutter? My 21 will wind the shutter even with no film in the camera. As 
                                    a matter of fact, the 21 body is identical to the C4 in it's film and
                                    shutter winding operation. 
                                    I wonder if Tom, while following the instructions carefully, could be
                                    lifting the rewind knob as advised and slipping the film tongue under the
                                    little roller)turning the takeup spool the wrong direction before closing
                                    the camera back and beginning to turn the wind knob. The slack in the film
                                    should be taken up by turning the takeup spool with your finger in the SAME
                                    direction as the arrow on the wind knob, which is clockwise when viewed
                                    from above. With the back off the camera this can look like the wrong
                                    direction to turn it.
                                    As far as Mike's 21 shredding sprocket holes, that may have something to
                                    do with that extra flap of metal. Mike, does your camera have that extra flap?
                                    My 21 is in quite poor shape, but loads and advances the film and cocks
                                    the shutter as smoothly as any ARGUS I have ever handled.
                                    Well, let's see if this might help Tom get his beast (21) loaded up and
                                    running, and what kind of comments my remarks spark.
                                    Regards to all and good collecting and "shooting",
                                    Charles E. Spickard -  Old Geezer - Retiree
                                    And I Love ARGUSES

                                    It has been established that the 21 comes in (atleast) two varients,
                                    one which has the film guard and which requires the sprocket gears
                                    to turn to cock the shutter, and one which does not have the film 
                                    guard and which cocks the shutter simply by turning the film 
                                    advance knob (no film necessary). We have for the most part been
                                    calling the film guard type "version 1" and have been trying
                                    to figure out what the serial number break is. So far there are 
                                    version 1's reported at 7XXX, 16XXX, 17XXX, and 30XXX (though
                                    the latter was identified at a time when the the definitions
                                    for "version 1" and "version 2" were in flux). The first firm
                                    version 2 that has been reported so far is 42XXX. The official
                                    serial number list as transcribed by Phil from the 1955 Modern
                                    Photography listing says the 21 goes from 19218 to 64785. I pub-
                                    lished a table suggesting that the cut-off was about 17XXX but 
                                    the 30XXX observation contradicts that.
                                    In any case (you will be glad to know) we have designated version
                                    1 as "valuable/collectable" and version 2 as "worthless/user"
                                    (assuming the definitions of versions 1 and 2 above).
                                    Mike Reitsma