Sunday, January 20, 2013

Drillium Revival - Jon Williams

I am very sorry to report that Jon Williams died suddenly of a heart-attack while riding his bike. He was a special guy. As talented a fine art woodworker as he was a machinist and a Music lover. He will be missed by the whole bicycle community he was so much a part of.

Jon Williams became interested in recreational riding when he was young and working at a record store where the hours provided plenty of time to ride. But that changed with a new job at a custom auto shop which took up all of the daylight hours, and cycling fell to the wayside. But there he learned engine building skills and other auto-related machine work. He also got interested in vintage motorcycles and restoration work. This introduced him to the tools that would lead to a different future. Years later, he hurt his knee and as part of the rehabilitation he started riding a bicycle again. He enjoyed it so much he started racing, and began to hunt for some of the bikes he lusted over and could not afford when young. He wanted to have some nice fluted parts for his vintage bikes but they were expensive and tough to find so decided to put some of his machining experience to work to create some parts himself. Soon other collectors, seeing what he had created, started asking him to do pieces for them. After years of experimenting and trial and error, he decided he was ready to offer parts to the general public as Drillium Revival.

 That is when I met Jon. I had acquired a 1973 Colnago and I wanted a fully pantographed bike. But after years of watching, bidding and losing bids on Ebay for original drillium parts of the era I gave up. Then I noticed an Ebay auction for a chainring drilled in the original Eddy Merckx style that would be right for my bike. It was offered by Jon Williams and I bought the ring. It had the original flower Colnago logo and looked great.

After I received it, I got thinking that maybe he could continue the theme and create a set of parts for my bike.I asked and he agreed and proceeded to take my seatpost and mill an original looking set of fine flutes with a flower logo on the front. I loved it! Soon, I had a complete set of parts that gave my 1973 Colnago that wonderful pantographed look. I like the result even more than a set of original drillium because it is unique to my bike.

In a recent visit to Jon's shop, I met Hank his Jack Russell-Walker Hound mix who accompanies Jon on his cyclocross rides into the Oregon countryside.

 Jon is as adept at fine woodworking as he is at millium/drillium work and has created beautiful Arts & Crafts style furniture

In the shop, we got a look at his nice collection of vintage bikes including his 1976 Colnago in Eddy Merckx orange and the drilled & milled parts he created for it. 

He has an interesting and carefully selected collection: a tangerine pearl 1969 Masi refinished at Masi’s Milan shop in the mid 70’s, a Peloso restored by Keith Anderson in a perfect 

coppery-warm color just right for the era, and my favorite, the 1962 Bianchi Specialissima with its Celeste paint job and chrome lugs with original paint and decals. He loves the stories behind the bikes and tells me about some of the less well known bikes in his collection.

 I wish I knew more about these unsung marques. He laughs as I point out the Hetchins in his Italian stable and says it is a favorite because it is a so un-Hetchins Hetchins with its long-point, un-adored lugs.

During my visit, he was working on parts for a Chris Bishop NAHBS  bike and a 50th anniversary group for another customer.
Simple and classic for your Baylis or ...
...elegant for your Hetchins or..

... colorful and wild.
 His array of vintage machine tools is quite impressive with two lathes, milling machine, sanders and buffers. 

Most of the machines in his shop are vintage American pieces picked up at auctions or estate sales, and lovingly put back in to useable condition like his old bicycles. There’s no CNC or CAD tooling in his shop.  All the work is done as it would have been done in the day.

I am amazed at how he can come up with so many different designs for different customers but he rebels at being called an "artist." He wants to keep his work grounded in the traditions of cycling. Don't tell him, but I still think he is an artist and has taken this tradition and turned it into an art form.

Contact Jon to have him take your old parts and turn them into something very special, / Phone 541-295-0457

More of Jon's work


Sam Rod said...

very very nice.... Thats some damn impressive work you do. fwiw look up a guy named Frankie Flood. (hes got a blog with some impressive work too)
you guys could be long lost brothers.
-Sam BTW Spotted them rollers in one of your pics. you must still ride?

poppi said...

March 28, 2018
Rest In Peace Jon
Mark Hoffman
New Britain, CT

Jennifer Homer said...

I'm a long-time friend of Jon, and just found out about his tragic and untimely passing a couple of days ago. I am crushed. He was the first friend I made when I moved to Grants Pass from Richmond, Virginia back in June of 1996. Over the 20+ years we’ve been friends, he gave me countless funk, soul and jazz records, stereo equipment, and various other cool items that he’d find which he knew I’d appreciate. I turn, I designed many logos and graphics for him, including that first Otis Records logo with the record and player arm on it. (I’ve been a Designer at a few ad agencies here in Portland now for almost 20 years.)

No one will ever fill the void that is now left… but whenever I spin my countless records that either came from him or were influenced by him, Jon will live on.

Do you know if there was or will be any sort of memorial for him?