How To Oil A Camera
Subject: Lens Lube
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 12:05:03 EST
I've been massaging this new Argus C of mine back to life. Last night I used
a trick on the lens focus helix that some of you might find handy at some
The grease in the focus helix on these old cameras typically congeal and dry
out making the helix almost impossible to turn. On my C the lens would
unscrew from the body before actually focussing.
What I did was take some light weight machine oil (sewing machine oil) and
with the tip of a jewelers screwdriver I dabbed the tiniest bit of oil on the
edge where the inner and outer helix meet on the back of the lens. Just screw
the lens in and out a bit and you can see what part is moving with respect to
what other part and thats the line to dab the oil on. I then just slowly
worked the lens in and out which gradually got the oil in to re-emulsify the
grease. I dabbed a bit more oil on as I went along and after slowly running
the lens in and out a hundred times or so it has regained a nice viscous but
not loose focusing feel. This same trick can be done with some Automatic
Transmission Fluid Type F. This is really thin stuff and will work its way in
and re emulsify the dried up grease really well. The trick is to start with
as tiny an amount as you can, it seems like it couldn't possibly do anything
but 4 or 5 micro drops around the diameter and running the lens in and out
just a few times you will start feeling the difference.
Subject: Re: Lens Lube
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 14:46:00 EST
> >Hey Guys,
> Be careful with that oil. I been using that trick for years and it
> is a good idea, but if you get too much oil in it can jam the iris diaphram
> blades or evaporate and migrate onto the lens elements. Use as little as
> will do the job. I had not thought of using ATF fluid, I'll bet that is
> better than light machine oil. Used the same trick on my C44 100 mm lens
> the other day. This trick will eliminate one of the most common complaints
> about ARGUS cameras.
> While we are on the subject of ARGUS lenses, I believe most
> criticism of unsharpness stems from maladjustment. Quality control must not
> have been outstanding back then as I have seen wide variations in sharpness
> of these lenses. I have one C3 that I have used to shoot weddings and
> parties with up to 8x10 enlargement with good if not outstanding results.
> The best of the bunch seem to come from the period around 1950.
> I am not an ARGUS expert, just a retired (Lucent Technologies[AT&T])
> old ARGEEZER who has been playing with ARGUS playthings off and on since
> the fifties.
> The original reason for having the lens unscrew from the C was not
> to allow other lenses, but so the camera lens could be used on an enlarger.
> The accessory lenses came later although the idea might have been in
> ARGUS's mind during design of the original C. You are very fortunate that
> the shutter seems to work OK. Although these are extremely rugged and
> reliable shutters and are very easy to repair, they have got a lot of wide
> open space around the mechanism for dirt to enter and collect, and as you
> have already noticed the lube tends to dry up in the shutter as well as the
> lens helix.
> Have fun with that "C", Carl and I hope it makes you a good "user
> Charles E. Spickard
Thanks for those additial comments Charles. I guess the most common rookie
error in applying oil to any part of a camera is to use too much. It takes a
bit of faith to realize that all it usually takes is a few molecules in the
right place, anymore and it just runs out and goops things up elsewhere as you
I suspect most of that cloudy film thats on those inner lens elements one sees
in almost any 50mm Cintar is the outgassing from the original lubes. Have you
had any luck disassembling one of these 50mm and cleaning up the inner
surfaces? I know there are just three elements in there so it seems like it
might be an easy one to recollimate if you knew what the relationship between
elements was supposes to be. Anyone else with some info on this area?
I've suspected that this rumor about some 50mm being sharper than others might
have something to do with how much grunge is coating those inner surfaces.
More grunge, less sharp, less grunge more sharp. I've seen some amazing
transformations in picture quality on other types of cameras just from
cleaning the haze off all the lens surfaces. I suspect at this point on the
average 50mm the grunge effect may be dominating the quality control effect in
lens sharpness. Just an unsubstantiated theory on my part. Something for
additional study perhaps?