Sometimes you just get lucky and find yourself in the right place at the right time. Such is the case for young Dion Brown of D.B. Trucking in Los Angeles, CA – or, was it us?
Last year, in May 2014, while gathering information for an article about Dynaflex, we toured their facility. While on this tour, we found a striking red Super-10 dump truck with satin black accessories, sitting in their shop bay, being fitted with a prototype exhaust system. We asked the folks at Dynaflex about it, and they told us a little bit about Dion and his truck, and even said that he had asked them, “Do you know how someone can get their truck on the cover of 10-4 Magazine?” A few months later, when we saw the truck at a show in Southern California after it was completed, it all seemed just too coincidental to ignore – we knew we had to put it on our cover.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Dion Brown (40) grew up around trucks but never considered it as a career choice. His father and uncle were dirt haulers and, as a kid, Dion loved playing in the trucks (sometimes he even got to start them up and drive them around the yard). However, after graduating from high school in 1991, Dion went into the construction industry, where he stayed for many years. But, as it often goes in construction, a recession hit when he was 30 and times got tough so Dion, along with his cousin, went and got their CDL. Still not sure what he wanted to do, Dion continued working in the construction field for a few more years, until he turned 33.
Around that time, Dion ran into an old friend from junior high school, D’Artagnan Curtis, who was making a name for himself in the world of dump trucking and building some cool Super-10s (one of his dump trucks was featured on our April 2012 cover). He took Dion to a nearby shop where he was building his next custom ride, and Dion really liked it.
Seeing Dion’s interest, D’Artagnan (DT) introduced him to Les Riley, the owner and operator of L. Riley Trucking & Dispatch in Harbor City, CA. Before long, Dion was the proud owner of a used Peterbilt 377 daycab tractor, which he and Les converted into a nice Super-10 dump truck, painted Forest green (Les also gave Dion his first job). This truck was – and still is – a workhorse!
In May of 2013, after deciding that it was time to build a second truck, Dion bought a 3-axle 2008 Peterbilt 388 daycab tractor with a C15 Cat that had been used in the oil fields – the mileage was low (about 250,000) but the truck had been worked hard and was in desperate need of some TLC. After buying the truck, Dion let it sit for a few months while he figured out what he wanted to do to it (and save some money to pay for it all). Getting a referral from a friend, Dion decided to let Rush Peterbilt in Pico Rivera, CA do most of the paint and body work, but first he had to convert the tractor into a Super-10 dump truck.
Taking the tractor to Bobby’s Welding in Mira Loma, CA, a longtime distribution location for 10-4 Magazine, Bobby’s son Leo and his team went to work. After stretching the frame, they shortened the fuel tanks to accommodate a new drop axle. They also fitted the truck with a 6-inch cab extension from Fibertech to give Dion a little more legroom inside, as well as some additional space for extra speakers. Once the chassis was finished, they installed a new 18-foot steel dump bed with extra lights and all of the necessary hydraulics, and now the 3-axle tractor was “officially” a Super-10 dump truck. But it wasn’t ready to work yet.
Once the conversion was complete, the truck was taken to Rush Peterbilt where Josh, David and Henry went to work. Not long after going to Rush Peterbilt, the truck took a trip to Aranda Truck Accessories (ATA) in Los Angeles where it was fitted with custom cab skirts, new stainless steel battery boxes with billet step plates, breather light panels (front and back) with small LED lights, a new drop visor, window chops, and a new stainless steel bumper with a recessed license plate holder.
Now that the dump truck conversion was complete and the body panels were in place, it was time for paint, accessories and final assembly. Back to Rush Peterbilt it went, where “master painter” Henry worked his magic, giving the truck a beautiful two-tone paint job in Coca-Cola red and satin black. The fuel tanks, crown of the grill, hood pull, air cleaners and all of the wheels were powder-coated satin black, while the visor, dump bed, headlight buckets, eleven cab lights, mirror brackets and window chops were all painted satin black.
Having been worked hard in the oil fields before Dion bought it, the interior was in pretty rough shape. Rush Peterbilt painted the dash panels and wood door inserts red, while the rest of the interior was done by the folks at Collins Auto Trim in Paramount, CA. Tom Collins and his team dyed the entire gray interior black, and then installed black suede on the headliner. They also covered the top of the dash and did the door panels in black leather with double-stitched red stitching. The truck also got new black leather seats and a Clarion flip-screen CD/DVD player, complete with two 8-inch sub-woofers by Kicker, a 400-watt Alpine amp, and various other speakers.
Wanting to fit his DPF-only truck with an 8-inch exhaust and Pickett elbows, which at the time did not exist, Dion turned to Dynaflex for help. Taking the truck to their shop, where we saw it, the Dynaflex team used Dion’s truck for the research and development of a new system, which is now available, that solves the two problems these DPF-only (no urea) trucks have – excessive heat and no space for a Pickett elbow. This new exhaust system, called AK Lite, allows owners of Peterbilt 388s and 389s (2007-2010) to install specially-designed “monster stacks” with large Pickett elbows on their truck. And, for the 2007-2009 trucks, Dynaflex also created a simple step-moving kit to accommodate this larger system (in 2010 Peterbilt changed the box design so the step-moving kit is not needed).
Since the exhaust systems on those first-generation DPF-only trucks get really hot (sometimes over 1,000 degrees), Dynaflex designed and developed an entire new pipe system, using two pipe skins and accelerated air, to deal with the excessive heat. Basically, they put a smaller pipe inside a larger pipe, which keeps the external pipe cool to the touch. After developing this system on Dion’s truck, they have now made it available, in chrome or black finishes, to the public. Of course, Dion went with satin black, to match the rest of his dump truck. To learn more about this unique AK Lite system and all of the other products Dynaflex offers, visit their recently redesigned website at www.dynaflexproducts.com.
While all of this truck building was going on, thankfully, Dion’s other truck was still out earning its keep. But, once this new truck was finished, it was time for Dion to get back on it, too. Having just signed a five-year contract to work with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), Dion’s broker Bobby Evans of Anytime Trucking in Torrance, CA, plans to keep Dion busy hauling “the worst of the worst” (broken concrete, rocks, asphalt, sand, gravel, mud and dirt) on the massive Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project.
This $2 billion project is a new 8.5-mile stretch of light rail line with eight stations that will travel through the cities of Los Angeles, Inglewood, Hawthorne and El Segundo, and includes segments both above and below the ground, with at-ground portions, as well. Spending 75% of his time running off-road in rough terrain, it will be hard to keep this Super-10 looking super, but Dion will try.
Whether working or playing, Dion loves to have fun, which is one reason he spent so much time and money on this new truck – he wanted to enjoy his time in it and not worry about something going wrong. That carefree attitude applies to his personal life, too – Dion is just a big ol’ kid! Not only does he love big trucks, but he also loves cars, motorcycles, bikes and boats. In fact, he has a nice 1968 Corvette Sting Ray, a sweet 1971 Chevelle with a 454 under the hood, and a new 2014 Camaro ZL1. He also has a KTM motorcycle and recently got interested in Supermoto – a type of motorcycle racing on a circuit that alternates between three types of track: flat track, motocross and road racing.
Family is important to Dion. In memory of his mother, who passed away back in 1998 from cancer, Dion numbered his truck (131) to represent his mother’s birthday (January 31). He also has praying hands and the words “Rest in Peace” tattooed on his forearm in remembrance of his beloved mother (his brother has the same tattoo, as well). And although Dion has never actually been married, he does have a 22-year-old daughter that he is very proud of from a relationship he had back when he was just a teenager.
When asked about the future, Dion said that he would like to grow his business to a point where he doesn’t have to drive on a daily basis, and can instead be a truck owner who stays home and dispatches the trucks – and plays a lot, of course. He’s even starting to ponder his next project, thinking he might want to build a dump truck with some sort of “hot rod” theme. One day, he said, he might even consider leaving the hustle and bustle of L.A. and move to a slower and quieter place, but his work is in Los Angeles, so that is where he will stay – at least for now.
Dion Brown has never been afraid to take chances to grow his company. In fact, to avoid getting stuck in a rut, he tends to “go for it” whenever an opportunity presents itself. We are glad we stumbled upon Dion’s rig that day at Dynaflex, and thank him for building a Super-10 dump truck worthy of our cover.
Sometimes you have to go out and create opportunities in your life, and sometimes you just find yourself (or your truck) in the right place at the right time. We at 10-4 Magazine are glad that WE were in the right place at the right time, too. Thanks, Dion!