Milestones

This is the story of how I set the garden hose on my drums.

One ridiculously rainy Saturday morning two weeks ago, I drove out to West Vancouver to pick up a set of Milestone drums I found on craigslist. These were a great deal, and the seller threw in the cases too. 12×9″, 13×10″, 16×16″ toms and 22×16″ bass drum.

Milestone was a brand of boutique fibreglass drums made in North Vancouver in the late 70s and early 80s. In 1985 there was a change in ownership and now the fibreglass lives on as Tempus, with Paul Mason at the helm. Paul was kind enough to answer a few questions, you’ll find the information he shared with me quoted below.

The heads were all taped up 80’s style, and there was about a decade’s worth of dust on everything. Seems about right (the seller hadn’t been playing for a long time). The toms all had die-cast hoops.

All of ’em [had die-cast hoops] except for 8″, 10″ and 18″ toms. For those sizes they never did make d/c hoop molds.

The resonant head of the 13″ tom featured this little logo of a local drum shop from before my time. It gets a brief mention in the official Milestone/Tempus history. The more you know…

That’s what the inside of a fibreglass drum looks like. The 16″ floor tom came with seasonal Halloween decorations and Ludwig floor tom brackets. This drum and the bass drum were the only two to feature sideways maroon badges.

Likely a 1982/83 era kit; I think they started using the rectangular vertical brass plates in early 1984.

Paul confirmed the age of the kit that the seller estimated to me. Here’s a closeup of the bass drum’s badge. It has no mounting screws.

The bass drum and toms came with giant, clunky Rogers MemriLoc hardware, including a tom mount that goes all the way through the bass drum for excess weight and maximum pointlessness.

Note the different widths of the bass drum hoops, which I believe are in raw black fibreglass, and my foot. Unlike the rough fibrous interior of toms picture above, the inside of the bass drum was smooth and glossy.

It was, as I remember it, an erratic tendency but Milestone used to periodically decide to add a final brushed-on layer of resin to the insides of their shells. I’m not sure what the reasoning was behind this nor even why it was done on some shells but not on others.

The cool thing about dusty fibreglass drums is that you can just hose them down.

There was this layer of dusty spots covering the hardware on the shells too. It wasn’t pitting, but it wasn’t a layer of dust that could easily be dusted off either. I had to scrub every last piece with an old green dishwashing scrubby thing.

Polishing the nooks and crannies of the tom mount and arms was my favorite part.

Then I took her back into my room and we rock and rolled all night. I look forward to partying with her every day as well.

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7 comments

  1. Daveashworth

    Nice job and nice find bud, Im looking at an early 70’s set , they are pretty Pricey at $900.00
    How do they sound and how do ya like playing em?

  2. Marcus

    Hey Dave, they’re pretty cool. Lots of attack, especially if you use single ply heads. “Smooth” and “dark” is how I would describe the overtones, don’t know if that makes any sense.

  3. Ripped Off By Paul Mason

    Marcus,

    Interesting find. I used to play a Milestone kit with those exact sizes, except in solid white instead of blue. Also, I played a silver sparkle Milestone kit in smaller sizes (8, 10, 13, 20) for a while and really liked it.

    Unfortunately, since Paul Mason took over the company and renamed it Tempus Drums, while there were a few issues with Milestone before (particularly in the area of inconsistent hardware and some shell sizes that were slightly oversize), Paul has brought new problems to the drums, making them an extremely risky purchase. I bought a new Tempus kit directly from Paul and the drums arrived with terrible hazing and cracks in the finish. Mason blamed this on me (I had nothing to do with it, the drums arrived that way) and I’m now aware he’s done this to many customers who have shared their stories and pictures with me. Mason makes a great impression in small doses and online, but when dealing with him over a significant issue, he refused to refund, refused to repair, and refused to replace the drums. Again, I emphasize I’m not the only one who has experienced this.

    The key problem is the Tempus’ molds are old and poorly maintained, and it seems Paul Mason has only a rudimentary understanding of working with fiberglass and gelcoat. Thus, without replacing the molds, properly maintaining and preparing the molds before use (read: using a release agent and wax appropriately, and occasionally stripping the molds to remove built-up styrene), and applying gelcoat in a consistent and proper way… inconsistent, cracked, and hazy finishes are always going to result. Mason seems to think the flawed finishes are inherent in working with fiberglass, but that’s not the case and is simply indicative of his lack of skill with the materials and process.

    The defective finishing isn’t appropriate for the top-tier prices of Tempus and isn’t really appropriate at any price. Also, I noticed other things, like hardware measured incorrectly (lugs slightly overlapping with floor tom legs) and Mason’s solution was to force the hardware on anyway, thus cracking the shells underneath and making a huge mess of the holes. This is hidden until you take the hardware off the drums. Essentially, quality control at Tempus is non-existent. It’s a shame to see a product with such potential go to waste, however, while Paul Mason is still at the helm, I strongly recommend that people avoid these drums.

    • Marcus

      “Ripped Off By Paul Mason”, you strike me as a person who has forgotten to take their pills. If this is not the case, please seriously consider seeking professional help and/or medication.

      You posted 8 comments on this blog entry, under different anonymous pseudonyms, within an 11-hour period. Half of those posts were re-posting your lengthy thesis. The other half were accusing me of hiding the truth and deleting your comments.

      I have:
      1) a job
      2) a life
      3) an approval process for comments on my entries, to avoid spam and unbelievable people such as yourself

      This post was about me finding and restoring a Milestone drumset. If you don’t like Tempus drums — which, as you noted, is a different company altogether that followed from Milestone — then don’t play them. You may also tell others about your experience when prompted. This post in no way constituted any sort of invitation for your detailed rant on Tempus drums, and singular attack on Paul Mason.

      If you want to display your neurotic behaviour on the internet, I have now found the time to approve your comment and grant you your wish. Thanks for rating down the other casual and relevant comments on this entry too, I’m sure that was you.

      For the record, I sold this drumset last week, after having it up for sale for over a year. I enjoy buying various used drum gear, getting to know its different characteristics over a length of time, and then selling it off to fund more instrument purchases. Milestone drums interest me because they’re incredibly unique and rare, but I have found these drums to be no better or worse than any other comparable product.

      You’ve used up your word quota for my website comments. Don’t expect any further replies to be approved.

  4. Daniel Graham

    I bought these drums off Marcus as I made the mistake of selling my set after years of playing the same kit and hearing the same sound. So after a set of Manu Katche, a set of hip gigs,a vintage set of Gretsch (gifted to my favorite Calgary jazz drummer),and a set of Sonor jungles I heard some dude named Steve Smith playin’ one nite—I found this set on Craigslist. I was looking for an excuse to get to Van and called this really nice cat named Marcus. i was on the island and all I had for transport was my scooter so he even drove me around and helped me get them on the UPS bus for Cowtown. I got my sound back and this kit has a happy home—-Thank you again Marcus your karma will be repaid !!!!!!!! much peace and love to you—you are a prize. P.S. A Year On Craigslist???????I’ll give you 250.00(LMAO!!!) Danny boy.

  5. mike

    Old thread.. That tom mount that goes through the bass for ” excess weight and maximum pointlessness ” that you said is actually so the weight of the toms don’t distort your bass drum,an excellent idea in my opinion,beautiful kit,I have a 1975 7 PC 8,10,12,13,14(hanging tom) 24×20,and 14×5.5 snare,all Rogers big R memriloc hardware with added on matching 1982 16″ floor,very original and very cool old kit.Mike

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