My Favourite Abandoned Water Tanker

Next month will see the 5th anniversary of the day I was introduced to the famous old abandoned Oshkosh water truck!  It has been lying deteriorating in the desert for the best part of 20 years and you will see from the photos how it has fared under the desert sun since 2012.

February 2012

I could hardly believe my eyes when it came into sight!  I was on a driving job and this was one of the first waypoints!


April 2012:

We returned with a mechanic but apparently it is a lost cause!  We also opened up the space on the side for corporate advertising!  Pics taken by Jane Koester and Klaus Strickmann.

August 2012:

I decided that posing next to the tanker for a photo was “so last year” and decided that future shots would see me atop it!  This picture was taken at 7am during Ramadan, on a series of two-car drives which were our summer holiday.


October 2012:

I couldn’t keep away from it – I organised the Virgins & Veterans trip to introduce my friend Mike aka Duckmeister to Liwa and of course I had to include the tanker.


Feb 2013:

I left it alone for four months until once more on a driving job we stopped by and I took the opportunity to add a Scotland sticker.


March 2013:

It makes a perfect backdrop for a picnic!


May 2013:

I took a group from Oasis Offroad out to visit as part of our Desert Rose trip.

May 2013:

On the last day of the month we braved 42C temps to drive from MZ to Ghayathi, pausing for a picture. Photo by Amer, aka “Someone In Al Ain”.


September 2013:

We passed by on the Blood, Sweat and Tears trip when I tried, and failed, to prove a moderate route between the fodder farm and the fish farm


January 2015:

I left it alone for a long while then, in fact I suspect I was not near it until I organised a New Year’s Day Oasis Offroad trip in the area. Photo by Donna Reynolds.


February 2015:

The following month I was back, on the driving job.  Photo by Chris Lidster


May 2015:

I wonder how many friends I have dragged out here?  Yet another Oasis Offroad trip


Fast forward to Feb 2016.  Driving job, waypoint etc.  Photo credit Paul Robida.


March 2016 – it was my great pleasure to introduce a fellow desert enthusiast, Pavel of Moto Desert Rides to the Oshkosh.


Possibly the first time Rahhal had visited it!


December 2016

It stood there, all alone and neglected for 9 months, until I included it in my National Day Weekend tag-a-long tour. Photo by Dan Wantanabe.


Having found a relatively easy, yet indirect way to the tanker I could not resist a return visit on another tag-a-long tour just a week before Christmas. Photo by Jay

On Christmas Eve 2016 my hubby and I took our cars and dashed out to the tanker, just in time for sunset.  Having been inspired by the Coca Cola Holiday Truck adverts, we thought we would do our own holiday truck, desert style.  Packing some led lights, power inverter and camping gear and of course our hounds, we made camp overnight so we could wake up in the desert on Christmas Day.

As soon as we arrived our dogs had a feast on someone else’s leftover biriyani – and I picked up one full  black bag of rubbish!  Please desert drivers, clean up after your picnics and BBQs!

I  would definitely camp near there again but a little further away from the tanker – even small gusts of wind make the it creak and howl in a ghostly way.

So there we have it -you will no doubt have noticed that the oily sand underneath has blown away and the old Oshkosh is now lying flatter than it used to; the metalwork is rusting and a dune has started to build on the west side.  How long will it be until it falls apart?  Will it ever be totally engulfed by sand?  Only time will tell.


  1. Hi DD (in our language DD means elder sister) which is what you really are to us offroaders here Marina.

    Its funny, I am sure others have noticed it too but the mound in front of the truck seems to have disappeared over the five years.

    What do you attribute that to, people moving around the truck or the sand actually moved causing the truck to move too. I doubt the gps coordinates would confirm that since there is always a margin of error of 5 meters here and there and sand only moves so much. I don’t know if you find it interesting but since you have documented this truck so well over five years, this thing caught my interest.

    Thanks for the wonderful way you have kept us informed. Hope to catch up soon in one of your trips

    • Marina Bruce says:

      Hi Altaf

      Thanks for your kind comments! And for calling me sister and not mum lol!

      I was hoping people would pick up on the changes in sand. Believe me, that tanker has not moved an inch in the last five years, in fact possibly not since the day he hit the sump on a rock and seized the engine.

      I am confident that the loss of sand – damp, oily stuff, is purely down to the wind – it comes howling up the valley from the north and west. Will be interesting to see how it changes over the coming years.

  2. Leandro says:

    Great pictures!! How can I get the coordinates and try to find it??
    Thanks in advance!!

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