Fuel truck, oil tanker, petroleum tanker, tanker truck – we have heard it all. But just because you work in the fuel industry does not mean that you know what a fuel truck is or exactly what it is capable of. For today’s “What Is It” series, we are going to be discussing fuel trucks, what they are, and what they do.
What is a Fuel Truck?
By definition, a fuel truck is a vehicle that is specifically designed to transport and deliver fuel to various locations, such as gas stations, airports, construction sites, etc. Fuel trucks are equipped with large tanks that are used to store the fuel and a pump and hose system that is used to dispense the fuel. Some fuel trucks are also equipped with additional storage tanks for other types of liquids, such as propane or lubricants. Fuel trucks are usually very large, heavy, and build to be rugged and durable, as they are often used in challenging environments.
Fuel truck drivers are responsible for driving the vehicle to the specified locations where the fuel is needed, connecting the hose to the fuel storage tank or fuel tanks being refilled, and operating the pump to transfer the fuel from the truck’s storage tank to the destination tank. The truck driver must also ensure that the fuel is dispensed accurately and safely while keeping track of the fuel levels in the truck’s storage tank. In addition to transporting and delivering fuel, fuel truck drivers may also be responsible for maintaining the truck equipment and performing basic repairs as needed.
What Are the Different Types of Fuel Trucks?
There are two primary fuel truck sizes – full transport (FTL) and bobtails (also called tankwagon or LTL). Fuel delivery companies may also use other types of trucks, such as box trucks for delivering packaged products or even pick-up trucks for some mobile fueling applications.
Transport trucks can hold up to 7,500 gallons of diesel and 8,500 gallons of gasoline in most states. Because they are so large, they are limited in fuel capacity by highway weight limits; because diesel is heavier than gasoline, a truck cannot carry as much.
Bobtail trucks come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are dedicated only to fuel and can carry 4,500 gallons of product, while others may only carry 1,000 gallons but have room for lubricants, DEF, and more.
How Much Does a Fuel Truck Carry?
The amount of fuel that a truck can carry will depend on the size and design of the truck. In general, fuel trucks have tanks ranging from 1,000 to 8,000 gallons. Some trucks may consist of multiple tanks, which can allow them to haul different types of fuel or other liquids at the same time.
What Does the Inside of a Truck Look Like?
There are various types of tanker designs that change how the fuel cargo will move around in the truck. Bulkheads, baffles, and smoothbores are the three most common.
Tanks with Bulkheads: Bulkheads are used to separate the storage tank or tanks from the rest of the truck’s interior – essentially into compartments. They are typically made of metal or similar material durable enough to sustain the weight and pressure of the fuel being carried. Bulkheads are used in fuel trucks to provide structural support for the tank and to help prevent the fuel from sloshing around and damaging the truck during transport.
Tanks with Baffles: Baffles also separate the fuel in the tanks to stabilize and prevent leaks or mixing of fuels. Also made of metal, they are shaped like panels or sheets and placed inside the truck’s tank vertically or horizontally. Baffles reduce the risk of splashing, which can be dangerous and cause damage.
Tanks with Smoothbores: These types of trucks usually have one interior compartment with no baffles or bulkheads to separate the fuel. While this option has advantages, it can be extremely dangerous for the driver. Because the weight of the fuel rocking back and forth with no stabilizer, if a driver accelerates or brakes too quickly, the fuel will slam into the direction of the force, creating the potential for a “liquid surge,” causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle.