I'll try to address some of the comments/questions. By the way thanks to everyone for participating in a thread by an obsessive compulsive perfectionist complainer.
Regarding Drew's (and PKM's) comments on detents, I am more or less in agreement. My distrust of manufacturer alignment is one of the reasons I went for a camera without detents the second time around. Without detents, at least if the camera is misaligned when "zeroed" I can just play with it using spirit levels etc, align it properly and then mark my own zero/neutral settings (which is what I spent several hours doing yesterday actually). If the camera is out of alignment when zeroed into detents, it's quite a bit more difficult, especially if they are deep detents.
This is one of the reasons why I'm curious about how "good" the expensive Linhofs etc are. If a camera is aligned properly, personally I like zero/neutral detents.
Brian Shaw: I can't answer that. I don't really know from a degree or micron perspective what an acceptable tolerance is. Also, not having owned a dozen LF cameras, its hard to come up with a useful reference point. I would say, however, it should at least be plumb/square enough that I can't clearly and obviously see that it is wrong without even measuring things. Perhaps I'm wrong about that requirement.
Mark: My issue is not with image correction/manipulation with the back, or with front swings/tilts to alter the plane of sharp focus in say a landscape. That is all done by eye, imperfections and all. I'm more concerned with relatively basic setups in which the camera is for all intents and purposes simply a fixed geometry camera with big film. Perhaps an example will help clarify my concern. Suppose I'm photographing a fairly two dimensional subject such as a building facade head on, not requiring tilts/swings to alter the plane of sharp focus. I'm working at night and with a fairly wide angle lens. Using the ground glass, and perhaps some additional double-checks with the spirit levels, I get the back squared up to the subject with the tripod head (ie the back is in its detented neutral position). No problems there. Lets assume I don't even need any front rise to keep things simple. With the front in its "neutral" position I now move on to focusing. Here's where, perhaps unfairly, I am asking for some help from the camera. I focus, and in the center at least, it looks sharp. I move the loupe around the ground glass to confirm everything is sharp. It is not easy to know. It looks reasonably good, but suppose in its neutral position the front is actually tilted or swung 1 degree or more (arbitrary example) relative to the back? Hard to see that on the ground glass. Depth up field is unlikely to be too much of a problem, but depth of focus? Ideally under those circumstances I'd like to rely on the camera being aligned. Perhaps I am asking too much here from a camera designed for multiple applications, but in reality there are often situations in which movements are not required.
Bill: I hear you. This is kind of what dlin was getting at. But what worries me about those things is, the more scales, lines and detents you have on a camera, the more critical it is that it be precisely aligned in its neutral position. Otherwise all those scales measure things relative to an incorrect zero position, in which case they might be more trouble than they are worth. Are you sensing my lack of confidence in manufacturing quality?