Happy Anniversary Water Beetle - 20 Years

Happy Anniversary All Water Beetlers…

Saturday 7th October 1990 - 20 years ago this date, the Lothians VW Club Water Beetle crossed the River Forth from South Queensferry to North Queensferry and back as part of the Forth Bridge Centennial Celebrations. It was it’s maiden voyage and the first of many times that it amazed people when they saw it. 150,000 people decended on South Queensferry (sorry Queensferry for the purists) to see the celebrations.
The Water Beetle was undoubtedly one of LVWC’s greatest achievements - built by a dozen diehard enthusiasts over 24 long evenings and some weekends in September 1990. We had to make it up as we went along because there are manuals to show you how to do it.
All the effort was rewarded by the sight of Metalbasher and Seamonsta piloting it both ways with only a minor hiccup along the way.
The following year the Water Beetle went on to race the top 11 man raft team at Anstruther. It was close fought over 3 laps and the Water Beetle won!
After that it appeared at Anstruther Lifeboat Day and then in 1996 appeared on TOP GEAR in a feature on amphibious vehicles.
During the Skye Bridge Toll Protests, it made most of the front page of many newspapers one weekend as the way to get across to Skye without paying the tolls.
Over time rust took it’s toll on the car which was a scrapper before we even started with it. After a lot of welding and other work it had it’s final trip into the Forth on the day of the Forth Road Bridge 40th Anniversary Celebrations. The who episode was filmed by the BBC who were still on hand to see it being dragged back out of the water by the Queensferry Lifeboat.

All the memories will live on for years!

That was not the end of the story though…

After rusting away quietly in my garden for several years, it was donated to a group of gardeners from Oatridge College in 2009 who transformed it into a garden feature which appeared at the Gardening Scotland Show. It captured the imagination of the crowds who attended that show and was awarded the Gold Medal (The highest award) Again it appeared on TV bulletins and the Beechgrove Garden and was used in all the publicity for Gardening Scotland Show 2010.

I must get an update to see where it is now.

Please post up any pictures you have of the Water Beetle so we can all see them.

Nice One Rhod! bowdown.gif

Can’t believe it was October when we officially launched it. Felt like it was earlier in the year…
Amazing experience - and by the time we’d prepared it for Skye, felt good enough to attempt a much bigger seaway.
Flat calm waters would’ve been pretty essential tho! heehaw.gif

Could’ve taught the Top Gear goons a thing or two about building a decent amphibian too,
but that would clash with their mandate to entertain by acting like eejits!

My favourite pics :

Cracking pictures Alex.
We can the evolution of confidence by the change of clothing between the 1st & 2nd pics!

Yes October it was. Steve Light came back from VW Action that year and stayed with us and we started the welding on 5th September and had it in the water for the first watertest at the Hawes on the evening on 29th September. That was an adventure in itself and the whole project nearly eneded that night - Not due to water but a towing bracket catastrophy followed by the famous wheelnuts incident on the way home.

Rhod G - 7/10/2010 10:38 PM
We can (trace) the evolution of confidence by the change of clothing between the 1st & 2nd pics!

…and facial hair! :lol:

Again - the amazement of recalling the main build was done in a month!! w00t.gif

It’s been a long term ambition of mine to build an amphibious Bus, but I really only want to do it to a walk-through Split - preferably a 21 window Samba!
And it would have to be road legal and a daily driver / steamer.
I think most folk here would shudder at the financial scale of a project like that nowadays, explaining why it’s still dead in the water with me, so to speak… :rolleyes:

Rhod G - 7/10/2010 10:05 PM
I must get an update to see where it is now.

Is it not still a highly unique flower pot back at Oatridge College campus?

One more pic :

I think it is still up at Oatridge. It was supposed to go to Bo’ness Motor Museum but heard that they were scared it would be vandalised as it was to be an outdoor featture.
Last I heard there was talk of it going to Suntrap at Gogar, but I haven’t heard any more since.

I’ve kept all the specific Water Bits for version 2 if we ever get around to it.

Meanwhile, Check out this amphibian

Sweet as! The Terra Wind is one of my top ten ultimate wishlist machines! bowdown.gif

As soon as the Road Bridge packs in before the dossers in charge of FETA and SP have got the new one ready in time,
I’ll be ordering one of those - if I can’t get the old car ferry up and running again of course!

Then again, we should just start re-building water beetles for the discerning Fife based commuters… heehaw.gif

Wow, there was a write-up in Hot VW’s (March or April or June 1997)about a waterbug in the U.K. and some kind of tax protest. Didn’t know it was LVWC who did this. Great Job!!! I’ll look through all of the mags and see if I can find this issue and post the article.

the weekend trip to sky was one of the best weekend of my life. what a laugh from sheena with her legs out of the o/s window daves beetle in fortwilliam it was lhd and the police really had to look twice. to the banter at the campsite

They were indeed great days!
Inevitably, we have to wonder if it’s possible to build another amphibian as a Club?
Talking about it at the Brewery visit (where simple ideas are lubricated by good ale and become great ideas!) there’s defo some interest.
I know my plan for near perfection with a road legal, daily driveable, amphibious and seaworthy Samba is not likely to happen without serious cash, so what are the other options?
As we’ve already done a Bug, it seems a fair challenge to try it with an old Bay or T25, but not as badly built as Hammond’s ‘Dampervan’ from the Top Gear malarkey.
Once we’ve sourced a suitable donor vehicle, then we need a garage/workshop for storage and regular working periods, with a realistic timescale for an event that we can plan the launch alongside. Maybe the opening of the second road bridge, or a protest at the re-introduction of bridge tolls if the Tories get too carried away…?
It does take team effort, with many hours work and some financial sacrifices from the team, but we could have a lot of fun along the way, with a very special flower pot at the end of it all… B)

man that looks amazing, I wish i was there for building the first one :), It would be good to see a bus getting done :smiley:

pooh, I sudenly feel old!! I used to live in Queensferry and remember this well!!

If the club was to ‘do’ another one, I’ll donate some welding for it. I’ll bring my MIG,Gas, wire and expertise…I do restoraton welder for a living.

You can tell it was years ago, nowadays the H&S numpties would have had you in life jackets and scuba gear

:lol: - very true John!

There was a concession towards H&S - as you see in that last pic, Ian & I had lifejackets (well, industry approved inflatable workvests)
for the actual crossing at Kyle. The one with our kilts on was just for publicity pics and we also had support craft nearby.

Even for the Forth crossing, I had a lifejacket on under my cheapo ski jacket, and George was defo wearing one as he was a bit more nervous!
I found myself explaining these facts to some of the safety obsessed seafaring pedants I work with, after going back offshore… :rolleyes:

Going to sea in a well built amphibious VW is no more dangerous to the occupants than a multi-million pound yacht in sh!te condition!
As Alan’s quote used to say - “It took a lone amateur to build and sail the Ark, but hundreds of professionals were involved in the building and sinking of the Titanic!”


Sorry I couldn’t find the article,and nobody in CAVWC seems to remember the article in Hot VW’s

Is it traceable online Dave? Hot VW archives on other sites maybe…?

Haven’t checked that yet… great idea. :think I’ll see if I can go that far back with HVW’s and see if they have it

bowdown.gif Video looks a bit dated but at least the good memories aren’t…! :thumb:

I must go and see if it is still there http://www.lothianlife.co.uk/2009/06/perennial-winners/

Wow! That looked amazing well done. I’d love to be part of the next project…