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From Rust to Restored

By Brock Hires

Okanogan Living

It takes a lot of time, work and effort to restore a vehicle. But for Okanogan Highlands resident Butch Sementilli, his efforts to restore a nearly century-old Chevrolet truck, have paid off.

“It was hard work, but I love it,” he said of his 1931 half-ton flatbed. “I’m so proud of it. It’s so beautiful.”

The 92-year-old truck was purchased brand new in 1931 to be used in an Oroville orchard, hauling apples and other tree fruit from orchards to packing sheds.

Oroville resident Harold Harper purchased the truck from the orchard owners before selling it to Sementilli in 2009. Having sat in a barn since its last road trip in the 1970s (a day trip to Wannacut Lake), Sementilli said the truck was in less than pristine condition, although it still has the original drivetrain.

With 56,000 original miles – and the original title – Sementilli offered Harper $1,1000. It then became his mission to breathe life back into the classic truck.

And while the truck is a 1931, the body is a 1928/1929 model, presumably because it rolled off the assembly line during the Great Depression.

“They just put on whatever they had,” he said.

About four years ago Sementilli completed the restoration and has since taken it around to a few car shows, making its debut appearance at last year’s Tonasket Founders’ Day parade. He went on to enter it in Hot August Night car show in Chesaw last year and again at this year’s Founders’ Day parade. It has been on display in the OK Chevy showroom, a Tonasket car dealership, through the month of June.

The truck has been an instant success, bringing curious looky-loos, conversations of pastimes and even the best of show awards.

But it’s not just the truck people flock to see. It’s the history behind it. (Sementilli is only the third owner in the truck’s life). Even wooden apple boxes (filled with fresh apples, of course) with historic paper apple labels attached to them, fill the bed of the truck.

Sementilli’s truck has even landed a spot on the Chevy Truck Legends website, where it is featured in the “Pre-1953” category.

“I am proud to have been able to save it for all to see,” he said.



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