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Historical Review of Swift 804 Audubon Binoculars

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Old Monday 3rd October 2005, 21:49   #1
elkcub
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Historical Review of Swift 804 Audubon Binoculars

NOTE:
An article by Edward M. Huff and Renze de Vries entitled: "The Inimitable Swift Model 804 Audubon Binoculars: Design and Marking Variations" is attached to Post #15 in three .pdf sections.

Historical Note #1: SP Series, — Post 59
Factoid #1: Tethered Objective Covers — Post 61
Factoid #2: Non-Air-Spaced 804ED — Post 91
Update — Post 103



As a continuation of thread Differences in Swift Audubon mark I, II, III ?, Renze de Vries and I have been investigating the various types of Swift Model #804 binoculars, and their marking variations. This has been aided by somewhat incomplete advertising records provided by Swift, San Jose, some of our own catalogues, as well as information from various collectors.

At this point it appears that Mark II binoculars were Swift's "Premium Quality" series, dating back to the early 1960s. One of the defining aspects to all Mark II models was a 5-element ocular, and three other quality construction characteristics. It does not seem that there were any Mark I Audubons, although there was definitely a Mark I lineup that overlapped in time but met different engineering criteria. We have identified several major design changes during the #804's 40 yr. history, which spanned the period from 1960 to 1999. We plan to publish a full BF report of the various types and marking when it's complete.

It anyone has a published account of the interaction between Swift and so-called "world famous" ornithologists back in the late 1950s or early 1960s, from which the original design evolved, it would be appreciated if you would share it with us. Even if written accounts differ it would be an interesting preface.

Second, although Swift's records are incomplete, we know from eBay sales that 2 or 3 types with blue or gold ribbons on the left cover plate were made. At the moment we are assuming they were produced in the period 1983-84, because they seem to represent a short-lived transition model with most of the characteristics of the earlier body style, and some of the features later to be consolidated into the significantly smaller 804R. ("R" means "revised," incidentally.) The stumper is that some ribbon-marked model have eyecups similar to very early types made before 1983, and the diopter scales are also different on some.

So, if anyone can provide information from old Swift catalogs with pictures and dates it would help us enormously to sort out what actually happened. If you own one of these blue or gold ribbon Audubons that could also be a help in learning more about them.

Please feel free to respond on this thread, or email me or Renze if you would like to contribute. Of course, anything else that might help to make this historical review as complete, accurate, and interesting as possible would also be appreciated.

Many thanks,

Ed Huff (aka Elkcub)
Renze de Vries

Last edited by elkcub : Friday 29th September 2006 at 03:03. Reason: Clarification and spelling
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Old Wednesday 5th October 2005, 08:37   #2
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I have a set of the Audubon 804 mkII with the blue ribbon on prism cover. The eyepieces look like those on the first body design, but the focus knob is like those on the later models - between the body hinges rather than the hinge and bridge.

There are no flaps that I can see on the vinyl for collimation screws. Looking under the objective lens surrounds there appear to be multiple rings. Would these be "eccentric rings".

I do not know how old they are, but judging from the case wear they are quite an old model.
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Old Wednesday 5th October 2005, 19:20   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jules.b
I have a set of the Audubon 804 mkII with the blue ribbon on prism cover. The eyepieces look like those on the first body design, but the focus knob is like those on the later models - between the body hinges rather than the hinge and bridge.

There are no flaps that I can see on the vinyl for collimation screws. Looking under the objective lens surrounds there appear to be multiple rings. Would these be "eccentric rings".

I do not know how old they are, but judging from the case wear they are quite an old model.
Jules,

Thanks for the response. Using Bill Cook's CN picture showing three 804 types (link below), is the eyecup made of rubber like the leftmost type, or is it hard material? One of the things we've uncovered is that (what we believe to be) the very first models actually used a between-the-hinge focusing wheel — but it was silver ribbed metal not rubber.

It would really help if you could attach a few digital pictures of this beauty so we could get a good look at the cover plates, eyepieces, etc. Not to be nosey, but did you buy this specimen on eBay in the last few months? If so, we may have pictures of it.

With regard to alignment adjustment, perhaps we can entice Bill Cook into commenting. My older Audubons (c. 1967) also doesn't have flaps, and I was wondering about the same thing. A picture of it is attached, beside a more recent 804R that preceded the center type in Bill's picture.

Ed
http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthrea...ev=#Post387187
Attached Files
File Type: pdf 804R and 804 FW for BF.pdf (282.3 KB, 1471 views)

Last edited by elkcub : Wednesday 5th October 2005 at 19:45.
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Old Thursday 6th October 2005, 16:01   #4
jules.b
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Here are a few photos. The eyecups, as you can see, are like those on the left in the Cloudynights forum photo.

They are not an Ebay purchase.
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Old Thursday 6th October 2005, 17:13   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elkcub
Jules,

Thanks for the response. Using Bill Cook's CN picture showing three 804 types (link below), is the eyecup made of rubber like the leftmost type, or is it hard material? One of the things we've uncovered is that (what we believe to be) the very first models actually used a between-the-hinge focusing wheel — but it was silver ribbed metal not rubber.

It would really help if you could attach a few digital pictures of this beauty so we could get a good look at the cover plates, eyepieces, etc. Not to be nosey, but did you buy this specimen on eBay in the last few months? If so, we may have pictures of it.

With regard to alignment adjustment, perhaps we can entice Bill Cook into commenting. My older Audubons (c. 1967) also doesn't have flaps, and I was wondering about the same thing. A picture of it is attached, beside a more recent 804R that preceded the center type in Bill's picture.

Ed
http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthrea...ev=#Post387187
Gentlemen:

Today, I am as busy as a one-armed paper hanger. But, I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Cheers,

Bill
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Old Friday 7th October 2005, 05:47   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jules.b
Here are a few photos. The eyecups, as you can see, are like those on the left in the Cloudynights forum photo.

They are not an Ebay purchase.
Great! I'd like to wait for Bill's comments about these designs.

More later,

Ed
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Old Friday 7th October 2005, 21:29   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elkcub
Great! I'd like to wait for Bill's comments about these designs.

More later,

Ed
Hi guys:

I doubt my comments will be of any worth. Since Jules has the bino in his possession, he knows that it has rubber eyecups. Also, be advised that this bino is the little brother to the Swift Commodore—a 7x50 with a VERY wide apparent field of view. This was aided in part by the lenses that were glued to the prism plates just after the last prism surface.

If I can figure out how to post an image on this site, I will show you a hybrid—am 8x40 Bushnell Sportscaster. Note the Jason / Bushnell / early Swift type of focus mechanism.

As for collimation, the one you speak of does have eccentric ring collimation, as did almost all decent binos of that era. The through-the-body screws on the Audubon are a bit out of the ordinary in that they tilt through the body and strike the prism at an angle. I have the Audubon 8.5x44 and 10x50 Audubon (now called the Kestrel) and used them as my primary birding instruments right up to the time I bought my 8x32 SE. However, collimation can be bear. There is not always enough resistance in the springs to hold the prism in place. This causes one to have to tweak more than should be necessary. This, in turn, wears out the threads or causes one side of the thread slot to bread off. That is a real pain. Finding small instrument screws, even in a market the size of Seattle, can be an exercise in futility.

Yes, it CAN take longer to collimate a bino with the eccentric ring method. However, once the job is done, it’s done; there’s no worrying about wimpy springs.

Was this of any value?

Cheers,

Bill Cook, Chief Opticalman, USNR-Ret.
Manager, Precision Instruments & Optics, Captain’s Nautical Supplies, Seattle

P.S. Please compare the NEW Swift Audubon to the photo of the Second Prize in the Night Sky Summer Sweepstakes (page 51). Just thought you would be interested.
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Old Saturday 8th October 2005, 01:46   #8
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Bill,

You bet it's of value. I'd like to ask more specific questions, some based on what you said, and some on what's in old Swift ads. However, my cousin is visiting for the next few days so I'll get back to this thread shortly.

Could you clarify where the eccentric adjustments are made, as per Jules' question in post #2?

Thanks,
-ed

Last edited by elkcub : Sunday 9th October 2005 at 16:31.
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Old Saturday 8th October 2005, 21:25   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WJC
... P.S. Please compare the NEW Swift Audubon to the photo of the Second Prize in the Night Sky Summer Sweepstakes (page 51). Just thought you would be interested.
Bill,

I don't follow what the photo is or have a web site for the "Summer Sweepstakes (page 51)."

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Old Sunday 9th October 2005, 16:44   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elkcub
Bill,

I don't follow what the photo is or have a web site for the "Summer Sweepstakes (page 51).
If you did, you would see it has a Vixen label.

Bill
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Old Monday 10th October 2005, 18:00   #11
elkcub
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WJC
If you did, you would see it has a Vixen label.

Bill
Bill,

Would you like to embellish this? Are you saying/suggesting/implying it's the same design or uses the same technology? My brain cells aren't working too well...

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Old Monday 17th October 2005, 16:12   #12
elkcub
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jules.b
Here are a few photos. The eyecups, as you can see, are like those on the left in the Cloudynights forum photo.

They are not an Ebay purchase.
Jules,

These pictures help. Can we use them in our paper?

I'm also curious about how collimation is done on these and others like them. Inputs from anyone would help.

I thought these ribbon marked binoculars were a transitional type that foreshadowed a return of focusing wheel to between the main hinges. However, based on several variations in eyecups, some of which are rubber and some not, there is a good chance this model was sold concurrently in Europe with the model shown on the left in Bill's photo.

If anyone has information that can clear up this mystery it would be appreciated. Catalogs are best, but they are hard to find.

Many thanks,
Ed

Last edited by elkcub : Monday 17th October 2005 at 17:23.
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Old Tuesday 15th November 2005, 06:47   #13
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The Inimitable Swift 804 Binoculars

Well, it's been a lot of fun for the last two months, but our paper is now ready for initial distribution. Sorry its taken this long, but I think you'll see why. The 23 pg. document has been compressed from 6.5MB to 1.2MB and has naturally lost some detail in the process. Unfortunately, some folks with an older Acrobat Reader may not be able to open it. Please try to upgrade.

Renze de Vries and I would like to thank the following people specifically for helping in various ways, but we take responsibility for all errors large or small. Henry Link was particularly generous with his time and insight, and has helped a great deal.

1. Steve Carter, Swift Optics, Customer Support, San Jose, CA, USA
2. Greg Short, Swift Optics, Customer Support, San Jose, CA, USA
3. Fan Tao, USA
4. Julian Bosley, Oxford, UK
5. Henry Link, Greensboro, NC
6. Wim de Boer, Technolyt, The Netherlands
7. Bill Cook, Captain’s Nautical Supplies, Seattle, OR, USA

Naturally, any questions, comments or corrections would be appreciated, as the paper can can be revised if necessary.

Hope you enjoy reading it as much as we've enjoyed the challenge of putting it together.

Ed Huff (Elkcub)
PS. The corrected (and final) version can be found on post #15.
Total earlier downloads: Part 1, 56; Part 2, 43; Part 3, 49.

Last edited by elkcub : Tuesday 29th November 2005 at 23:04.
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Old Thursday 17th November 2005, 00:50   #14
Pileatus
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FYI

To download files in a MS Windows environment:

Highlight the file name
Right click
Save Target as
Select your Desktop (or other location)
Save


Repeat for each file.
The file(s) will be on your computer for easy access.

Adobe Acrobat reader 7.0 works fine. Get it at:
http://www.adobe.com/products/acroba...lversions.html

John

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Old Friday 25th November 2005, 18:22   #15
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The Inimitable Swift Model 804 Audubon Binoculars: Design and Marking Variations

The corrected version of the paper has been uploaded, and the earlier versions are being deleted to avoid confusion. You would have to look closely to see any difference, but two marking variations have been added, and some of the tentative wording has been strengthened based on feedback from Swift and a few collectors. We've also added a few fieldmark arrows to help identification. It's been an interesting journey.

Again, we would like to thank this somewhat larger list of people for helping in various ways, and hope no one was left out. We still take responsibility for all errors large and small, so let us know if you find any.

1. Steve Carter, Swift Optics, Customer Support, San Jose, CA, USA
2. Greg Short, Swift Optics, Customer Support, San Jose, CA, USA
3. Fan Tao, USA
4. Julian Bosley, Oxford, UK
5. Henry Link, Greensboro, NC
6. Wim de Boer, Technolyt, The Netherlands
7. Bill Cook, Captain’s Nautical Supplies, Seattle, OR, USA
8. Ted Nordhagen, Montana, USA

Happy Holidays,
Ed Huff and Renze de Vries
Attached Files
File Type: pdf BF 804 Pages 10 to 16.pdf (511.1 KB, 3473 views)
File Type: pdf BF 804 Pages 17 to 23.pdf (387.4 KB, 3267 views)
File Type: pdf BF 804 Pages 1 to 9.pdf (493.6 KB, 3380 views)

Last edited by elkcub : Thursday 1st December 2005 at 04:10.
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Old Wednesday 30th November 2005, 20:03   #16
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Availability of 804 Type 4b(2)

Several people have asked about the availability of Type 4 804s. Although used ones turn up on eBay fairly consistently, I recently learned about three new old stock items in Tacoma, WA. These are not the ED model, but they do have the latest fully multi-coated optics.

Anyone interested can ontact Ed (who is not me) at: [email protected], or call 253-627-4158. He's asking $389, which as I recall was the standard retail price about 1999.

Are they worth the investment? They would be to me if I didn't already own several 804s.

Happy Holidays.
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Old Sunday 4th December 2005, 20:20   #17
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Swift 804 vs. Nikon Porros EII and SE

Elkcub raises the question as to whether old stock of the 804's are worth the price. To answer the question, one has to consider the binocular's performance and what else may be available.

I have been examining a Swift 804 HR/5 glass and I have found it to be very interesting. Comparing it with roof prism glasses would be unfair, and comparing it to the Nikon 8x30 EII and Nikon 8x32SE would also be problematic because the Swift has larger objectives. Optically, its greatest asset, wide FOV, is barely offered in any roof glass, while the close focus and waterproof qualities of a roof are hardly available in a Porro binocular.

However, the Nikon Porros and the old Swift may be compared on the basis of price point with some justification. The EII retails for under $US300 and the SE retails for a little less than $US599. This put the 804, if available, between the two. I have already written about the two Nikons in

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=34701 post #24

The 804 is rather like the EII with Swift having almost as a wide field of view as the EII and substantially the same apparent fields of view. I would put the edge sharpness of the Swift as right between both Nikons. Like the EII the Swift's sharp center is about the same as the SE's field of view.

All three have acceptable eye relief with the SE having the best specs. As I wrote earlier, the SE is well known for giving some users, the kidney bean effect. This not a problem with the other two binoculars.

All three binoculars have good central sharpness. The multicoating on each provides good contrast. I do not think any of them would be lacking in the field, even if a bench test would show some differences.

All three would be considered stiff focussing compared to a roof glass but in these Porros, one is moving the bridge and the oculars, not just some internal lenses. The Swift has the widest focussing knob, making it a bit easier to use.

All three use fold down rubber eyecups, so there is equality in being old fashioned. As I wear eyeglasses, I should point out that the Swift seems to have better suppression of reflection because of strong sidelight entering the oculars. This should be of little importance to those who do not wear specs.

I did not have the opportunity to determine how much advantage the larger exit pupil and higher twilight factor of the Swift translates into greater utility at dusk or penetratrion of shadow on dull days. Today, a very overcast wintry day, the Swift performed very well. I spotted a woodpecker, not very far off but beneath a tree. The glass revealed the red crown of the red bellied woodpecker, which my naked eye missed.

I like the 804 because of its wide view, even with its greater bulk. Swift managed to find a nice compromise in the 44 mm. objectives, between 32 mm and 50 mm. At that price point, even with its bulk, it compares well to either of the two Nikons, the most comparable competition, at the price point. If both a wide FOV and greater twilight factor are important criteria than the Swift has the advantage over both Nikons. The greater exit pupil does make it easier to align the objectives, the oculars and the user' eyes. If the user has no trouble with the SE's kidney bean effect, with its 60º apparent field of view, and if the user requires a flat field, the SE may have the advantage, at a substantially higher price. If the user likes a wide field and has no problem with a 3.75 mm. exit pupil, the EII may be right

Since all binoculars are compromises, and the users have their own criteria, this binocular would be worth investigating, if the vendor has a full refund policy. I always recommend trying a glass out yourself, not taking others' advice.

Happy bird watching,
Arthur Pinewood

Last edited by Pinewood : Tuesday 6th December 2005 at 01:08.
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Old Monday 5th December 2005, 20:00   #18
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Arthur,

Many thanks for a well thought out review. One reason I became so interested in the 804's history is that they are such a fantastic birding binocular. IMO they compare very well with my Nikon E and Swarovski SLC optics — and those were chosen over other top end products. It continues to mystify me why Swift 804 Audubons seem(ed) to be an "also ran," particularly since they are really superior in low-light birding conditions when it matters most. I'll be looking forward to your observations made at dawn or dusk, and perhaps we can continue the discussion.

Happy Holidays
-ed

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Old Monday 5th December 2005, 23:48   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elkcub
Arthur,

Many thanks for a well thought out review. One reason I became so interested in the 804's history is that they are such a fantastic birding binocular. IMO they compare very well with my Nikon E and Swarovski SLC optics — and those were chosen over other top end products. It continues to mystify me why Swift 804 Audubons seem(ed) to be an "also ran," particularly since they are really superior in low-light birding conditions when it matters most. I'll be looking forward to your observations made at dawn or dusk, and perhaps we can continue the discussion.

Happy Holidays
-ed
Ed,

I am not likely to watch birds at dawn or dusk, but I have been trying to penetrate shadow on cloudy days. I did not see any birds in shadow on this overcast day but I did not instantly recognize a tufted titmouse in the trees, until I used the binocular and the Audubon helped me distinguish the coloring of a female cardinal, also in the trees. The Audubon did not serve me well looking at stars well above the horizon but I have difficulties doing that with an 8x50. However, a unipod helps solve my shakes.


Another bird watcher raised the issue of durability, holding that the Nikons were better built than the Audubons. Certainly, Nikon has a good guarantee. I try to take good care of my optics and the only problem I have encountered involved trauma. Nevertheless, most binoculars should be regarded as suffering from slow, minor deterioration. We should review their conditions with fresh eyes, every few years.

Happy bird watching,
Arthur

Last edited by Pinewood : Thursday 29th December 2005 at 10:15. Reason: spelling
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Old Tuesday 6th December 2005, 00:50   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinewood
Another bird watcher raised the issue of durability, holding that the Nikons were better built than the Audubons. Certainly, Nikon has a good guarantee. I try to take good care of my optics and the only problem I have encountered involved trauma. Nervtheless, most binoculars should be regarded as suffering from slow, minor deterioration. We should review their conditions with fresh eyes, every few years.
Hi Arthur,

Nah, there is no basis for saying Nikons are built better. I own an 8x30 Mikron, and a 10x35 E. Each required collimation, the latter when brand new.

Since acquiring my 804R Audubons I've been able to bird longer, well into darker conditions. It's most remarkable. In addition, naturalness of viewing is superior than with anything else I own. That part I can't quite explain, but I think you commented on the same phenomenon.

They'll have to pry 'em out of my cold, dead hands.

-ed
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Old Tuesday 6th December 2005, 00:59   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elkcub
Hi Arthur,

Nah, there is no basis for saying Nikons are built better. I own an 8x30 Mikron, and a 10x35 E. Each required collimation, the latter when brand new.

Since acquiring my 804R Audubons I've been able to bird longer, well into darker conditions. It's most remarkable. In addition, naturalness of viewing is superior than with anything else I own. That part I can't quite explain, but I think you commented on the same phenomenon.

They'll have to pry 'em out of my cold, dead hands.

-ed
Ed,

Certainly, the Audubon, like few other binouclars, feels like it belongs at your eyes. The basic design has been in production for almost four decades, which is a recommendation in itself.

Happy bird watching,
Arthur
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Old Thursday 29th December 2005, 06:52   #22
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Serial Numbers and Manufacturing Dates

Dear 804 Audubon owners,

In recording the serial numbers of my own Swift 804 Audubon binoculars, it dawned on me that the first two digits may correspond with the year of manufacture. If true, this would be a great way to refine the dates for each model type.

It would be most appreciated if those who own 804 Audubons could post the Type as shown in our paper attached to Post #15 at http://www.birdforum.net/showthread....573#post472573 as well as the first two (or more) digits of the serial number. The results will be summarized and corrections made to the paper accordingly.

Of course, it is possible that the date is not coded into the serial number, but that should become readily apparent after a few responses.

Many thanks for your assistance,
Ed

Last edited by elkcub : Thursday 29th December 2005 at 17:08.
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Old Thursday 29th December 2005, 22:58   #23
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Hi Ed,

Heavens, you could very well be right! See this:

Type 1c - 70****
Type 4a - 86****
Type 4b - 87****

happy new year!

Renze
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Old Thursday 29th December 2005, 23:46   #24
elkcub
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renze de Vries
Hi Ed,

Heavens, you could very well be right! See this:

Type 1c - 70****
Type 4a - 86****
Type 4b - 87****

happy new year!

Renze
Renze,

Yes, thanks. So far it's holding up rather well. I didn't know you had a Type 1c. Thought you were after a 1a — but then who can be choosy? Any info. on the Type 3a or 3b you were involved with? I may email Fan Tau about his 4c. Otto also has one or two, plus a Kestrel 726, which also seems to be date coded judging by mine.

Happy New Year to you and yours.
Ed
PS. I take it the 4b is a 4b(1), i.e., an HR/5 marked Multi-Coated Optics. Right?

Last edited by elkcub : Thursday 29th December 2005 at 23:49.
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Old Friday 30th December 2005, 00:27   #25
Pinewood
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Ed,

Late model 4b 99****

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