Interview with Bert Van Heerde, Minelab Detexpert and Founder & CEO of Motley Beach Scoops
One of the things I look at when researching companies in the metal detecting space is whether or not the founders of the company truly metal detect. Do they understand the wear and tear on the equipment incurred by those who detect weekly and do long hour outings in various soil and weather conditions? Ergonomically, was the thought there, when designing the product for someone who will be using or carrying it for hours detecting? While researching Motley Beach Scoops, I found exactly this.
Bert Van Heerde is a Minelab Detexpert, a passionate detectorist, and also the CEO & Founder of Motley Beach Scoops. He detects mainly in the Netherlands and also has foreign permissions detecting all over Europe using an Equinox 800 and CTX 3030. Some of Bert’s notable finds are an 8th Century Cross Fibula, a Roman Ring, and a Roman Disk Fibula. See a sample of his various finds below.
His company, Motley Beach Scoops, is known for the vibrant colors and edgy-looking metal detecting sand scoops that look like an art piece. However, few know they are created by a team of engineers, and stress-tested by a list of serious detectorists. Besides Bert field testing the Motley Beach Scoop, he has formed a team of detectorists that test the scoop in various weather conditions and environments i.e. sand, gravel, and both salt and freshwater. The Motley Testing Team are recognizable names in the European metal detecting community, including Sebastiaan Hoogenberg, Andre Wende, Allan Abilgaard Jensen, Jan Brand, Paul Cee, Truls Warhuus, Neil Jones, Arjen Groen, and Karol Oreczak.
Below are the questions I asked with Bert’s answers.
Bert Shares Detecting Tips
When using your Minelab Equinox to relic or beach detect, how do you like to customize the settings?
First of all, people must know that I am not a wise guy because of being a Minelab Detextpert, I love the brand, I love the detectors without disrespecting other brands, that why I never do comparison tests between other brands, detectors, scoops, or diggers, etc. I learned in life to always respect your competitors. Second, I would like to say, I always have 2 detectors with me when I am on a hunt, the Equinox, and the CTX.
Settings which work for me are as follows, for relic hunting I generally use fields 1&2.
But I adjusted field 1 in 2 tones, and field 2 in 5 tones. Also, I dig everything with a good repeatable signal from 1. Sometimes fine, thin, ancient gold, can come very low in the VDI numbers, as low as 2, 4, 6, etc.
I think that there is no perfect program. I think you must pick your standard program, which you like the most, and on the field. I am constantly tuning and adjusting my machines when I look and research the field I am about to detect, and the area where I plan to hunt. Sometimes with a trashy area, adjusting different settings like iron bias, recovery speed, change coils, or sensitivity, etc., is necessary. So my advice, with detecting and Minelab detectors, is to have standard-pre-set programs, and always adjust the settings the whole day during a hunt.
When using your CTX 3030 to relic or beach detect, how do you like to customize the settings?
I love my CTX. It’s a mean machine with a lot of possibilities for me, from the GPS, making custom programs with XChange 2, and discrimination options. Also for the CTX, there are the same rules as written above with the Nox. I love to turn my screen wide open, almost always using manual sensitivity, and high tuning my CTX to the max without getting a lot of false signals.
For my CTX, I like to use my own programs and also made my own custom FE program with 2 tones, another program with 5 tones (combined), and also toggle between high discrimination programs when needed.
I never use deep settings (clips signal) and sometimes use seawater settings to get my metal detector quieter when hunting in areas with power cables, etc.
We are lucky in Holland, we don’t have black sand or highly mineralized sandy conditions, so this is not an issue for me when water hunting in salt, or freshwater.
My advice is to use as minimal discrimination as possible and don’t overrun the detector too high with sensitivity settings.
Depending on your area, I also like to use my different coils depending on the circumstances. On clean grounds, I always like to use my large 17 inch coil.
Being successful at metal detecting isn’t about going out blindly and swinging a detector. It is about doing research about an area. What tools or tips can you share about finding the best locations and researching the history of a location to metal detect?
I am more of an in-depth kind of guy who always prepares for a hunt, which starts at home behind my computer. Most of the time, when we have arranged a new permission from a farmer, I do my homework using various items; old maps, a Lidar data program, archaeological data reports, as well as also asking the landowner if he can tell me something more about his fields. For instance, when plowing, did any stones turn up where old church paths might be revealed that went through the country, etc. When I find useful info with Lidar or other grey line maps, I make a GPS marking in my CTX with XChange2 so I can walk easily to the hotspots.
Also after years of detecting, you learn and get the experience at how to read a landscape. Such as understanding the ground around old trees, differences in a field like small heights, or indents in the ground, etc.
What other advanced metal detecting tips can you share with our readers?
Tip 1 I believe that it’s best to use manually noise-canceling channel 11 for gold finds, it has a slight difference in frequency which works for me. It is also good to use this channel in the EMI area, however, there is a little loss of depth with this setting.
Tip 2 Sometimes you notice an iffy signal in a spot, (small target, or deep target). In this case, I load my target by using the pinpointing options. When I do this, the signal gets stronger and I can recover it.
Tip 3 Don’t take the easy way. If everybody metal detects in the same areas, then don’t go there, and instead, use your own creativity to search for more difficult spots to detect. These spots might take more time and energy to reach, but not everybody is willing to do the research, or hike the distance leaving you to reap the rewards.
About Motley Beach Scoops
In my research, I noticed Motley Beach Scoops is a collaboration between yourself, engineers, testers, and customers feedback. The beach scoop has a lot of thought behind it, from the stepping pads, handle, base, connection pin that connects the shaft to the scoop, quality of steel, plus welds used, and its clean, edgy look. We spoke about the team of detectorists who test the scoop, but can you tell us about the engineers, their backgrounds, and expertise.
A year ago it came on my path to develop and design a new beach scoop together with a European factory, their engineers, and our pro staffers. A special team headed by Karol, a brilliant engineer, follows the process from development to manufacturing with strict quality control. Together we developed this out-of-the-box scoop and design.
As a detectorist, I wanted to make quality digging tools which other detectorists would also enjoy. I don’t pretend that we make the best sand scoop in the world, but for sure we try to make a good, nice-looking scoop.
It is important to me to have good quality standards and manufacturing processes to make it a well engineered quality tool. From the high-grade inox steel, quality handmade weldings, laser cutting machines, all of our scoops are electropolished, sandblasted with fine glass pearls, then powder coated. So you can see there are a lot of processes involved.
There are a lot of good beach scoop brands on the market and everybody has a favorite, like Xtreme Scoops, CKG, SITO, Swagier, etc. There are no bad sand scoops, only differences in price, and quality. If you have a 30 dollar sand scoop from Asia, it can be for you, very good when you hunt only one time a month, but for the hardcore beach detectorist who spend 3 to 40 hours a week, they require a better quality scoop which comes at an expense.
The scoop hexagon holes which sifts sands; do they come in one size or can you get different diameters?
We have designed each scoop with 2 sizes of laser cut hexagons. 10mm on the sides and 0.6mm at the bottom. See the photo below.
Sand and saltwater can cause a lot of damage and get into the tightest corners of the scoop and handle. How easy is it to keep the sand and saltwater out of the handle between detecting outings? Does it have a way to let water and sand out of the shaft, so it doesn’t pool and damage the scoop or handle or connection pin?
Our scoops and handles are totally laser-cut with hexagon holes, because of the Motley easy drain system, which allows sand and water to be released very quickly and drain easily. Also after use, it is very easy to clean your handle and scoop. No water stays behind, which sometimes happens with some carbon shafts where some detectoristss fill them in with building foam, etc, otherwise water stays in. With wooden handles, they will damage after some time, especially in saltwater, and expand so you cannot get your wooden handle out easily. With the Motley Scoop, we have a 2-way easy lock pin system which allows you to travel fast and within 15 seconds you disassemble your scoop and handle.
Will sand and river gravel cause the colorful powder coating to get dull and chip?
Of course like any other digging tool, such as land shovels, grass knives, or garden tools, the powder coating will come off after use but only on the part which is used for digging. It is a wear and tear thing of course. The irony is that it’s totally accepted on land shovels with no complaints, but we come out with customized colored beach scoops and detectorists are concerned that this could be an issue.
Do your scoops need to use a Motley handle, or can one put their own wood or custom handle on a Motley Beach Scoop?
No, of course, they can also use their own favorite handles like carbon, wood, etc as long as it has the same inner diameter. We do sell single scoops without a handle, which are cheaper to ship.
In a popular metal detecting forum, some speculated, who had never seen your scoop in person, only in photos. that the handle would bend. Can you address this? How strong are the handles, and have any been returned with bent or broken handles?
Unfortunately, there were some people who posted negative comments about Motley Beach Scoops directly after we launched our product, which in my opinion were very strange because they had never used or seen a Motley Beach Scoop in real life yet. I feel it would be more respectful if they recognized.. wow this company is trying to come up with something new in the detecting world for us! I found it very difficult to read these comments in the beginning because I couldn’t defend myself and my company with mutual respect.
Still, in an effort to move forward positively, we continue to listen to the users, take their advice and constantly look for opportunities to make adjustments to make our scoops better and better.
About the strength of the scoop, I had consulted metal manufacturing experts and did market research before designing the sand scoop. I had also studied a lot of photos by different beach and water detectorists where their scoops break. I’ve seen damaged scoops, broken handles, carbon, wood, glass fiber, aluminum etc, or bent scoops, weldings which were damaged etc, so what I finally want to say is that every scoop can be damaged. In my opinion, it depends on different circumstances, how many hours it’s used per week, and which grounds (black sand, heavy clay grounds) they are used in. You must use your common sense, don’t overpower your handle and scoop. Always do your service after use, like rinsing with freshwater, spray light with a Teflon spray, and dry it with a soft towel.
I heard you had modified your beach scoops from listening to customers’ feedback and needs. Are there any future changes or new models coming out?
Yes by listening to our field testers, pro staffers, and customers we are adding 2 new features to our scoop which are for now, a secret, and later on, we will announce them.
Motley Digging Tools
I see you have referenced Motley Digging Tools on your social media. Does this mean shovels and hand diggers are coming?
Behind the scenes, we are very busy developing grass knives and Motley style land shovels in different out-of-the-box designs. We have 3D concept designs already and are now looking at and discussing with our team, engineers, etc if it is technically doable to manufacture. Please stay patient and again our design will blow you away!
Purchasing for Personal Use or Becoming a Dealer
A good percentage of our readers are in the US and Canada. How easy is it for US or Canadian citizens to order Motley products?
Everybody can order with us and within a week we can deliver with DHL Express.
Currently, the disadvantage when someone from the States or Canada orders the complete scoop (handle and scoop), because of the length, it can only be sent with DHL Express and is about €130, which is unfortunately very expensive. But remember you can still buy only the scoop and place your own handle on it. Which is less expensive to ship.
For us, it would be beneficial to find an American wholesaler/distributor or a Metal/Scoop manufacturer company who will or can buy our concept to manufacture the scoops directly in the States in such a way that the price for the consumers stays acceptable.
What are Motley’s warranty policies?
Of course, we have an official warranty policy, please read them on our website to get a clear detailed oversight before purchasing. We give an overall 2-year warranty on construction and material failure, but not on wear and tear, or over abuse, etc.
How can one become a dealer of Motley Beach Scoops and Motley Digging Tools?
Please get in contact with me by using firstname.lastname@example.org
Bert, thank you for the detailed answers. To learn more about Motley Beach Scoops, visit www.motleydiggingtools.com. If any of our readers have other questions for Bert’ about detecting or Motley Beach Scoops, please leave them in the comment section below. As you can see Bert is a wealth of metal detecting knowledge and I hope to do a follow-up article where we can learn more.
Joanna Jana Laznicka, a Czech-Canadian residing in Southern California, is passionate about all things associated with metal detecting. She mainly detects on the West Coast, from Southern California to Northern British Columbia. As the founder of Focus Speed, her goal is to bring quality content to metal detectorists.