Russ, thanks I had not really priced the Gunnar frames/forks, etc. I don't think the 480 frame will work for me (too big) but I should compare the specs with the Terry and LHT and also contact Gunnar, especially if I can save $$.
I compared the Gunnar and Terry websites for the bikes. It appears Terry has Gunnar make them different sized bikes from the stock Gunnar bikes. Terry does offer one smaller bike than the smallest Gunnar frame. You might go custom with Gunnar and work with them to make a smaller frame similar to the smallest Terry frame. Terry gives you its dimensions. I'm sort of, kind of against the Terry bicycle simply because it is a Gunnar frame. Terry even says its a Waterford (Gunnar) frame. So why not skip the middle man (Terry) and buy the frame from its real maker (Waterford/Gunnar)?
Another person argues against buying a frame and building it yourself because the cost is usually more than buying it direct already built as a complete bike. With the Terry it is very easy to see if this is true or not. Terry says it is a Gunnar frame/fork. Gunnar sells its frames direct to the public and lists its prices. Price both the standard and custom options. Terry also lists all the parts on the bike. Simple to find all those parts on the internet and list their prices. See if the totals work out right or wrong. Biggest benefit for building it yourself is you get to pick every part yourself and get what you want. Not accept a half-arse part you don't want. Like 32 spokes instead of 36 for a loaded touring wheel. Or lower and better mid range gearing than what Terry offers. An 11-36 cassette instead of the 11-34 Terry offers. A 42-32-22 crankset instead of the 48-34-24 crankset Terry offers. Wider handlebars. Correct stem length. Saddle that fits you. By the time you pay to change all these parts on a stock bike, its probably better and cheaper to buy it right from the beginning.
I am pretty sure that all the custom frames are Waterford and all the stock frames are Gunnar. So there is no custom Gunnar. A Gunnar is always TIG welded, and a Waterford could be TIG welded or lugged (silver soldered). And if the frames are the same size, and come from the same tube sets, and are both TIG welded, then why is the Gunnar less expensive and is it better than the Waterford frame? Waterford frames are done one at a time, and Gunnar frames are done in batches. This is sort of like comparing machine built wheels with custom wheels, done to the the same rim, spokes, and hubs. Should you not know, there is more attention to details (like spoke tension) in a custom wheel.
I used to be an automotive engineer, so I will throw out an analogy. Back when cars were more generic, a model might be available as a Ford, a Mercury, or a Lincoln. So you could find a Ford with the same trim level as Lincoln, and the Ford would cost less than the Lincoln. I was in engine engineering, so I can't speak to all of the differences between a Ford and a Lincoln, but a Lincoln had to always start on the first crank--a Ford was allowed to stall once.
I would bet that these are Waterford frames done to Georgina's specifications, which includes a smaller frame size than is available from Gunnar.
I want to know how she gets the weight down to 20.5 pounds (does include saddle, does not include pedals, does not include racks). I think she is making assumptions about a woman's more petite weight, as I would not normally spec a 32 spoke wheel in a touring bike. Georgina is a pretty straight shooter and has long held a good reputation. I am more incline to trust Georgina, than I am to trust Trek or Specialized or any of the other big bike companies.
I think our original poster has a misguided perspective on weight. The frame normally accounts for 4-5 pounds (for a quality steel frame) out of the total weight of the bike. The rest of that weight comes from the components and wheels. I would expect a steel touring bike to come in at 23-25 pounds (no racks or fenders). I don't know why the LHT is 28 pounds. Maybe the frames are heavier due to the using single butted tube sets able to dampen on frame flex on a loaded bike. I seem to remember an LHT frame and fork is ~$700, so there has to be reasons why it is $1100 cheaper than a Gunnar. Sure the welder in Wisconsin gets paid more than one in Taiwan, but shipping cost are down too.
A loaded touring bike is not going to be nimble and it is not going to be quick and that just needs to be accepted. One can spend $1200 on an LHT and get this and $3500 on a custom bike and get that. The weight of the load can be reduced by eating out and/or not camping. Life is full of tradeoffs.