This month’s creation was built for Dean Estes (57) and his wife Melissa (AKA Slim Pickins) of Redding, CA. Some builds go easier than others, but this one had its challenging moments, for sure. I always work hard to create a truck that is different and unique, and, in the end, it all came together, and everything turned out just right.
Growing up in a very small California town called Fall River Mills, with a population of about 1,700 people, Dean’s parents, Bill and Betty Estes, owned and ran the local store in town. Sadly, they have both since passed away – dad in 2015 and mom in 2018. Dean worked at the store a few summers when he was younger, but quickly realized that wasn’t for him. His high school had a straight truck and offered a Chauffeur license course, so he took it and got his license to drive when he was just 16 years old. He graduated high school in 1980, and a week later he was driving a log truck.
The following year, Dean went to work for a local farmer who had a 1973 Freightliner COE. Three years later, the farmer went broke, so Dean purchased the truck from him. He owned it for four years and hauled chips out of the woods with it. After that, he sold it and went log trucking for two years for a local guy. In 1990, Dean bought a truck again – this time it was a 1974 Peterbilt 359 short hood log truck. He ran it until things got rough in 1994, and then sold it and moved to Redding, CA.
Landing a job with Robbie Cattanach, Dean drove a truck for three years for him and then wound up being the truck boss. But, like a lot of businesses, he grew too fast and unfortunately went out of business. Dean bought one of his trucks – a 1996 Freightliner glider kit – and ran that until 2005 when he found a new flattop Peterbilt on a lot that he had to have. He ran that truck until he bought this new one from me in late 2019.
Married early on and then divorced, Dean has two grown kids from his first marriage – daughter Megan (33) and son Bobby (30). Living in a small town meant there was slim pickins regarding meeting new people, but Dean found one.
Melissa worked at the local hardware store, and after finally agreeing to go out, the two got married on July 4th in 1992 and have been inseparable ever since. Because of the way they met, in their small town without many prospects, Melissa acquired the nickname “Slim Pickins” or just “Slim” for short. Dean and Melissa have twin boys together – Jackson and Tanner (27), which were a true surprise. They didn’t even know she was pregnant with twins until 20 minutes after the first baby was born, when they realized there was another one still in there!
Knowing a couple of my friends, when it came time to order a new truck, Dean gave me a call. Dean is great guy, and we had a lot of laughs while going through the ordering process. Looking at thousands of trucks and even more paint schemes, this was not an easy order (I think I have Dean’s VIN number memorized). I always try to come up with something new, so Dean started teasing me and calling me Picasso. In the end, we ordered the 2020 Peterbilt 389 with a 48” flattop in Metallic Silver paint and a Rhubarb frame. Fitted with an X15 Cummins, an 18-speed, LowAir suspension with a car-hauler front axle and a very modest wheelbase, we waited until the truck came in to finalize the stripe design and colors.
When the truck showed up, Leonard handled most of the work. The painter laid out an old 379 stripe scheme, which we modified to make work. Using Legendary Grey and the Rhubarb frame color for the stripes, we think they turned out awesome! From there, we added custom body drop panels with lights underneath, a Texas bumper, extra grill bars, steer axle dump vales, breather and cab lights, dummy stacks, two extra step boxes, a painted Merritt deck plate with a hidden V-box (just in case) and stainless half-fenders on my brackets. We also hid the DEF tank, moved the seats back and down, and painted the headlights, air tanks and fuel tanks.
Dean knows that everything happens for a reason, and even when things don’t seem to go the way you think they should, it will all work out. He and I both agree that with this new truck, everything worked out just right. The pictures we took at the park did not turn out very good, so Dean and Slim washed it up on a Saturday and took some amazing pictures for us. Man, even the pictures worked out just right. Isn’t it funny how that always seems to happen!