I have always thought Kodak did nice work with the design of the Signet 40 which appeared on the market in 1956. I was reminded of that judgment recently when I came across some discussions of the camera on line, so I went looking for one on ebay. There were a lot of listings at reasonable prices, I chose the least costly at $12; the seller said everything worked, and the camera had the uncommon f3.5 46mm Ektanar lens rather than the Ektanon most often found on this camera.
the manual, requires "about" three full throws to release the double exposure prevention. As with the Signet 35, the shutter is cocked manually. My example came with a leather case that looked unused and a three-pronged "Midget Flashholder". Everything did appear to be working properly as advertised. The vertical alignment of the rangefinder was a tiny bit off, but that seemed like it would be easily corrected.
I decided to give the camera a trial run before attempting any cleaning or repairs, so I loaded up a roll of Kodak ColorPlus 200. In shooting the roll, I discovered one additional issue; the film counter was not working.
A close-up at the 2-foot minimum for the rangefinder showed good accuracy. And, a walk through Old Town to the Art Museum produced pictures with satisfying sharpness.
After processing and scanning the pictures I took the top off the camera and adjusted the vertical alignment of the rangefinder by turning a small screw which changes the angle of the half-silvered mirror. That just took a few minutes.
The non-working frame counter was more of a head scratcher. I could not see any obvious problem with the operation of the counter mechanism on the top deck and I was careful in putting back the top to make sure the levers were properly engaged with the toothed wheel that rotates the counter dial. I then opened the back of the camera to take a look at the star wheel at the bottom of the film frame which engages with the sprocket holes in the film when the film is advanced. Poking around a dissecting needle in the narrow space next to the star wheel revealed the problem to be some tiny bits of film lodged next to the wheel. Removing those bits freed up the mechanism and the counter then worked properly.
Several popular on line sites suggest that the Ektanar on the Signet 40 is a four-elment Tessar-like design. Brian Wallen, however, exhibits a chart on his site based on a 1958 Kodak Data Book which puts the Ektanar on the Signet 40 firmly in the three-element category along with the more common Ektanon. While it remains uncertain if the two lenses are identical, they do share the important commonalities of good lens coatings and a unit focus design which is said to yield better close focusing capabilities. Given how the Internet works, the issue will likely not be resolved until someone actually gets around to disassembling the two lenses for comparison.