If you missed the beginning of the story Part I is a must read; see http://italiancyclingjournal.blogspot.com/2008/02/mario-confente.html
Part II(from the "Custom Bicycles by Confente" brochure; this brochure was produced by Rexart Cyclery)
"Mario Confente has gained international recognition as the master frame builder with the Masi Bicycle Company in Italy and, more recently, in the United States. He is now designing and manufacturing custom bicycles under his own name.
A Division of Rexart Cyclery of Jersey City, N.J., the Confente bicycle operation is housed in a new, specially designed plant in Los Angeles. Made-to-order road and track bicycles are produced in the plant.
Confente is believed to have produced more professional bicycles than any frame builder in the United States. After serving an apprenticeship with Bianchi, a widely known bicycle company in Italy, he joined Masi. Here his skills matured to the point that he became known as the craftsman of champions. During a seven-year period when he was master frame builder for Masi he produced about 1,700 bicycles. Many of them were ridden by winners of national and international races including such events as the Tour de France. In 1972, Confente came to the United States with Faliero Masi to establish Masi-U.S.A., he supervised production of more than 2,000 bicycles.
As his fame as an expert frame builder grew among experienced racers in the U.S., he was frequently asked to design custom-order bicycles. Responding to that demand, Confente joined in an enterprise with Rexart in 1976. Within a few short months, nationally known U.S. racers such as Jerry Ash, Skip Cutting and Xavier Miranda began riding Confente machines.
Confente has developed a number of technological innovations for his new plant. Among the equipment he has designed for the plant are specially fit and case-hardened steel jigs to assemble and join both road and track frames. Used to hold the frame angles and tube lengths to exceptionally close tolerances, the jigs assure production exactly according to the designated geometry of each frame. This results in frames that can be said to have excellent geometry.
Simply stated, excellent geometry in a custom frame means not only that the frame is absolutely straight, that the tubes, stays, and fork achieve exactly the desired angles; but that such lengths and angles are those required for the specific rider for whom the bicycle is custom-designed.
After a frame configuration has been determined, the first step in manufacturing is to cut the tubing to the desired size. These tubes are then fit to specially designed investment cast lugs, bottom bracket and crown before being shaped to the desired angles.
Special attention is given to joining the tubes, stays, and lugs. Confente has developed a particularly precise method of brazing to insure that all components are joined with no pin holes or voids that could lead to possible failure under extremely demanding service.
The key to the Confente brazing technique is using a temperature that is just below the melting point of the steel in order to not damage, distort, or crystallize the tubing by subjecting its molecular structure to too much heat, thus weakening the metal.
A pure brass brazing technique is used rather than a brazing alloy since this procedure results in the strongest joints-another critically important characteristic of high quality frame building. A special flux, developed by Confente to insure proper wetting (brazing) of all joints, is used.
After the frame is assembled, sandblasted, and carefully inspected, it receives a pre-painting acid bath. This operation removes all impurities and oxides from the surface of the steel. In addition, the acid bath insures that all the flux remaining would eventually permit a corrosive action to take place.
The acid bath is followed by an oven drying procedure. Then two baked-on coats of primer are applied. This step is followed by two applications of primary color., both of which are are also thermal cured. The decals are then applied and, as a final step, the frame is given two coats coats of clear lacquer.
Confente uses a special acrylic paint because it provided a much harder surface than epoxy or urethane-based paints that do not stand up under demanding service conditions of racing without wearing, chipping, or corroding.
Just prior to the painting operation, the front and rear drop-outs and fork crown are sometimes plated with a tri-metal combination of copper, nickel, and chrome to prevent rusting. These parts are masked during painting operations.
Only the finest components are used for Confente bicycles-Fully Campagnolo equipped; Cinelli handlebars, stem and saddle; Clement silk tires; Regina freewheel and chain; and, of course, either Reynolds or Columbus tubing.
Confente frames are produced in all types of Columbus and Reynolds tubing. Because each bicycle is individually fabricated, it is possible to mix Columbus and Reynolds main tubes and stays according to customer preferences.
For customers who are unable to come to the Los Angeles plant, Confente has developed a special skeletal form of the human body. Its use insures that the frame size and all other design parameters conform exactly to the customer's height, leg length, arm extension, waist attitude in the down position, length from seat post to stem and all other critical variables involved in custom frame design."
Note: a fully equipped Confente cost $995 in 1976.
The next blog entry will be about my very interesting visit with Mario Confente's sister, Gianna Confente.