Mike Kone's mention of uneven quality in top name frames brings my mind to the topic of sub-contracting by builders during the boom years. This is certainly a cause of some inconsistency among brands.
I have first-hand knowledge of Cinelli's extensive use of subcontractors to build frame "sections" which were shipped to the main factory for final assembly. One guy did nothing but rear triangle work for years.
Another first hand experience was a manufacturer who had a subcontractor braze fork ends to blades then ship those blades to the main factory for attachment to the crown/steerer assembly. The rationale for such piecework--it kept the subcontractor from stealing completed forks for sale to retailers.
Many of our most revered builders did subcontracting work, Picchio being a prime example. Hardly a reflection on their talent it was a way of keeping your workshop busy.
I'd love to hear more stories of this seldom explored aspect of the classic framebuilder.
Longmont Colorado USA