Building professional model ships
Dirk de Hek, born in 1960, has his roots on Terschelling. You could often find him at the ports where he sat for hours looking at the ships taking in every detail. Through his father he came (at the age of 8 years) in contact with Captain Jan Doeksen who very enthoustically told him about the illustrious sea tug ' Holland '. These stories made a stunning impression on young Dirk and were the reason to make a scale model at the request of Captain Doeksen who had promised him 10 guilders if the model would look good. This was in fact his first client, but now it still had to be built.
Model Ship Yard by Dirk de Hek in the starting blocks.
To make it possible to build a similar model Rederij Doeksen was contacted. The request for drawings and info on the ' Holland ' was received with an A4 copy and a photo with the call letters PESK on it, complete with a colour picture to see. Cardboard and wallpaper paste was used to make a wood mould for the hull. Father De Hek also helped to make the mould more realistic. When the ship was ready, it was delivered to the client, who was very impressed and paid 10 guilders. Money that Dirk immediately invested in tools to better his work.
After training as an instrument-maker and the necessary courses on technical field, it was time for De Hek to take the model construction more serious. First there were the model kits of various brands and quality to be able to learn to work on scale and get experience with it. His ultimate goal was to receive larger commissions, but that was still in the future.
His first large investment was purchasing two glass display cases, in which the windjammers 'Danmark ' and the 'Cutty Shark’ were exhibited. In the circle of friends, by word of mouth and through small articles in local magazines, a small-scale network started with a number of commissions. Eventually that led to his first major commission, a model of the ' Friesland '. The client had taken the time to search all over the country for a model builder with an eye for detail and a good price/quality ratio. After many disappointments with regard to quality as well as cost he came across the Model Ship Yard of De Hek. The model of the Friesland was built to the original yard drawings and transferred to the client who accepted the model with full satisfaction and with great appreciation.
Now it was the time to invest in better quality tools and a number of machines to be faster and for a better result (yet) to be able to work and meet the needs of clients. Also finding a suitable workshop space was important to accommodate the intended inventory of tools and machinery. These were purchased, making more pleasant working conditions and a guaranteed standard for obtaining a perfect quality in detail.
The following commission came along, the ' Zeven Provincien ', the flagship of Admiral Michiel Adriaanzoon de Ruyter. A mouthful, but with 26 large A0 drawings, you can go a long way. After a construction time of approximately one year, the ship was ready and it was transferred to the client at the opening of his new company.
On Terschelling, word got around that a model builder lived in Arnhem, who could have had a connection with the island. After being invited for a visit to Arnhem, Mr De Weerdt from the Behouden Huys Museum gave the green light for the construction of a model of the ' Holland 1 ', the old stoomzeesleepboot of Doeksen. The transfer of this model, which took place in the Behouden Huys, was graced by the presence of two old former crew members of the ' Holland 1 ', Mr Hessel Klein and Albert Wiegman. They were very impressed. The owner of the Terschellinger Hotel Oepkes, who attended the transfer, was so impressed that he decided to give command to build the ' Holland 4 ' which now sails as a museum ship and is often found at her old place in the port of West-Terschelling. This scale model is on the basis of the original yard drawings and built with good co-operation with Rederij Doeksen and can be admired at the Hotel Oepkes.
When a new town hall was being built on Terschelling, now more than a decade ago, one wanted a unique work of art in the Hall that would be connected with (the history of) the island. The choice fell on a true-to-life scale model of H.M.S. ' Lutine '. Through close co-operation with Mr De Weerdt and the National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam, Dirk de Hek has managed to manufacture a scale model that is unprecedented. Of course for all to admire in the new Town Hall.
At this occasion, the then Deputy Mayor Van Urk talked to De Hek and suggested the idea to make a scale model of the ' Ocean '. The ship where both their fathers had sailed on. A wonderful idea which resulted in a scale model that can be seen in Hotel Claes Compaen in Midsland.
De Hek prefers original drawings submitted by the construction site of the ship to be as accurate as possible to model in detail. Photos should help any customizations that a ship has undergone and the right time on where a model is based. A ship often undergoes many alterations, take for example the ' Holland 4 ' out there coming from the yard looking very different than in the years that followed, with the appearance the worst during the Rijkswaterstaat period.
The great leap to professional ship models building is now on the agenda. In order for other shipyards, museums, institutions and other companies to guarantee better conditions, the next step for recognition has come. The creation of a company with the name Model Ship Yard is going to be a logical investment for the future. Official establishment and registration at the Chamber of Commerce are obvious. For future enterprises De Hek can give guarantee on construction and quality, and together, after consultation, take on a contract.
Eventually, due to the construction time at this kind of precision construction, making labour a big cost factor is to be looked at for a solution acceptable to the customer and tax authorities. It will not be for Dirk de Hek. He is ready and thinking already about new investments.