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Understanding why some Tanker Trailers have Baffles/ bulkheads and others do not?

Understanding why some Tanker Trailers have Baffles/ bulkheads and others do not?

To help you understand why some Tanker Trailers have Baffles/ bulkheads and others do not?

I like to introduce you to something some call Liquid Surge or others “The sloshing effect” In Tanker Trailers.

The sloshing effect results from the movement of the liquid in partially filled tanks. This movement can have bad effects on handling. For example, when coming to a stop, the liquid will surge back and forth. When the wave hits the end of the tank, it tends to push the truck in the direction the wave is moving. If the truck is on a slippery surface such as ice, the wave can shove a stopped truck out into an intersection. The driver of a liquid tanker must be very familiar with the handling of the vehicle.

Image Curtesy of: liquidsurgecontrol.com – Liquid motion in Tank trailer without Baffles/bulkheads

If you’ve ever pulled a tanker trailer, you’ve experienced the sloshing effects. This aspect of hauling liquid loads can be very intimidating at first for the driver. Some tankers have Bulkheads(internal compartment dividers)  or baffles(internal compartment dividers) and some don’t

  • Bulkheads – use a solid divider to divide a liquid tanker into several smaller tanks. When loading, and unloading the smaller tanks, the driver must pay attention to weight distribution for the dividers are solid. Putting too much weight on the front or rear of the vehicle will cause adverse effects.
  • Baffles are bulkheads that have holes in them to let the liquid flow through. The baffles help control the forward and backward liquid surge. In these trailers, the internal movement of the product is minimal.


Image Curtesy of: liquidsurgecontrol.com – Liquid motion in Tank trailer with Baffles/bulkheads


However, in a tanker without baffles (sometimes called “smooth bore” tanks), where there’s just one liquid product, it’s a completely different story. A tanker without baffles handles differently than any other trailer. have nothing inside to slow down the flow of the liquid. Therefore, forward-and-back surge is very strong. non-baffled tanks are usually those that transport food products (e.g., milk). (Most sanitation regulations forbid the use of baffles because of the difficulty in cleaning the inside of the tank.)

Sources: truckingtruth.com , smart-trucking.com

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