There are business opportunities everywhere for those with eyes wide open. For Scott Mattox, licensed contractor, full-time handyman and New River Valley native, the roofing specialty caught his attention. It was, admittedly, the perfect “vehicle” to allow him to purchase yet another “vehicle” – this one the kind of heavy-duty truck necessary for roofing projects paired with his own love of classic vehicles.
“I wanted something with style that could be put to work to justify the cost,” he explains. “I want to look professional pulling into a job, and I didn’t especially seek a fix-up project of a truck.” The high-priced trucks were out of his budget, and the very rough, inexpensive ones did not captivate his attention. Then along came this 1971 C-30 Chevrolet dump truck which no longer suited its owner’s needs. It perfectly met Scott’s objective to own a classic dump truck with a nice coat of paint and fully operational. “It looks really good from 10 feet, and most people don’t look closer. It came with a working modern AM/FM radio, but I can hardly hear it over the 3” exhaust noise.”
Like any newly acquired old vehicle, there was a little drama early on. It hadn’t been driven regularly, and the first time Scott drove a long distance, it did fine. “The next time the alternator failed,” he relates. “It left me stranded after delivering a load of wood to a friend near Catawba. Coming home, something didn’t seem right, then it stalled out. My wood client came and loaned me a truck to go buy a new alternator. With a screwdriver and crescent wrench, I changed it and was back on the road.”
The gas gauge stopped working next, and he ran out of gas. He has added a tachometer, because it runs so loud it seems like it might be going a million rpm all the time. That’s worth monitoring.
The C-30 designates that it’s a 1-ton truck, and he doesn’t need a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate it. There are no air brakes, as disc brakes in the front were introduced with the 1971 model, and they stop better than drums. It has a 4-speed manual transmission with granny low first gear for barely crawling. Scott starts mostly in 2nd gear. The original 292 engine was durable and reliable with a low-end torque for hauling. No longer a straight six, this one has a modern 350 small block Chevy V8 engine and a 4-barrel carburetor.
The dump mechanism and hydraulics work great, and it came with chains on the tailgate. The previous owner did a little work to the bed, and Scott plans to finish painting that. The holes in the front fenders are where turn signals used to be installed. Gas mileage runs a little higher than he expected, in the high single digits.
“Commercial roofers charge a premium, and there’s lots of margin in there,” Scott explains. “I can offer professional roofing at a less expensive price and own a cool dump truck which can earn its keep.” And that’s worked well for him.
Scott, 37, holds a Virginia Class C contractor’s license along with a bachelor’s degree in building construction from Virginia Tech, class of 2007. He has always been interested in how things work, tinkering from a young age on anything including his collection of antique radios. At age 15, he was hired as a factotum assistant at Clay Corner Inn. Factotum comes from Latin facere “to do” and totum “everything” like total. He helped lay flooring, paint, repair toilets, and fix anything else that needed to function correctly.
After college, he was hired by an historic rehab contractor in Roanoke and has had the opportunity to work on many old building rehabilitation projects over the last 15 years. He is especially passionate about historic homes and spends many spare moments working on his own 1890s Victorian.
The dump truck goes to work with Scott often. It recently hauled away a couple large loads of broken bricks from a job site where the bricks had to make way for an addition. His other vehicles include a 1992 Nissan pick-up and a black 1986 Chevy Suburban which looks like a hearse. Both of those function as large rolling tool boxes, retrofitted for the purpose. Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Text and photos by Joanne M. Anderson