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# Calculating Truss Forces

Forces
Compression

Tension

## A body being stretched

Truss
A truss is composed of slender members
joined together at their end points.
– They are usually joined by welds or gusset
plates.
Simple Truss
A simple truss is composed of triangles, which
will retain their shape even when removed
from supports.
Pinned and Roller Supports
A pinned support can
support a structure in two
dimensions.

## A roller support can

support a structure in
only one dimension.
Solving Truss Forces
Assumptions:
All members are perfectly straight.
All loads are applied at the joints.
All joints are pinned and frictionless.
Each member has no weight.
Members can only experience tension or
compression forces.
What risks might these assumptions pose if
we were designing an actual bridge?
Static Determinacy
A statically determinate structure is one that
can be mathematically solved.

2J = M + R
J = Number of Joints
M = Number of Members
R = Number of Reactions
Statically Indeterminate
B
Each pin
connection
contributes TWO
A C reaction forces
D

FD = 500 lb
A truss is considered statically indeterminate when the
static equilibrium equations are not sufficient to find the
reactions on that structure. There are simply too many
unknowns.
Try It 2J = M + R
2(4) ≠ 5 + 4
Statically Determinate
B Is the truss
statically
determinate
now?
A C
D
FD = 500 lb
A truss is considered statically determinate when the
static equilibrium equations can be used to find the
reactions on that structure.
Try It 2J = M + R
2(4) = 5 + 3
Static Determinacy Example

## Each side of the main street bridge in Brockport, NY has 19

joints, 35 members, and three reaction forces (pin and roller),
making it a statically determinate truss.

2J  M  R What if these

2 19   35  3
numbers were
different?

38  38
Equilibrium Equations

M  0
The sum of the moments about a given
point is zero.
Equilibrium Equations

Fx  0
The sum of the forces in the x-direction is
zero.

## Do you remember the Cartesian coordinate system? A

vector that acts to the right is positive, and a vector that
acts to the left is negative.
Equilibrium Equations

Fy  0
The sum of the forces in the y-direction
is zero.

## A vector that acts up is positive, and a vector that

acts down is negative.
Using Moments to Find RCY
A force that causes a B
clockwise moment is a
negative moment.
A C
RAx
D
A force that causes a 3.0 ft 7.0 ft

## counterclockwise RAy RCy

moment is positive 500 lb
moment. M A  0
FD contributes a negative FD(3.0 ft)  RCy (10.0 ft)  0
moment because it causes a
clockwise moment about A. 500lb(3.0 ft)  RCy (10.0 ft)  0
1500lb ft  RCy (10.0 ft)  0
RCy contributes a positive
moment because it causes a RCy(10.0 ft) 1500lb ft
counterclockwise moment RCy 150lb
around A.
Sum the y Forces to Find RAy
We know two out of the B
three forces acting in the
y-direction. By simply A C
summing those forces RAx
D
together, we can find the
RAy 150. lb
unknown reaction at 500. lb
point A.
Fy  0
 FD  RCy  RAy  0
Please note that a 500. lb  150.00 lb  RAy  0
negative sign is in front of
FD because the drawing 350. lb  RAy  0
shows the force as down. RAy  350. lb
Sum the x Forces to Find Ax
Because joint A is pinned, it is B
capable of reacting to a force
applied in the x-direction. A C
RAx
D
350. lb 150. lb
However, since the only load 500. lb
applied to this truss (FD) has no

Fx  0
x-component, RAx must be zero.
Method of Joints
Use cosine and sine to determine x and y vector
components.

## Assume all members to be in tension. A positive answer will

mean the member is in tension, and a negative number will mean the

B
member is in compression.

## As forces are solved, update free body diagrams. Use

correct magnitude and sense for subsequent joint free body diagrams.
Method of Joints
Truss Dimensions

4.0 ft

A θ1 θ2 C
RAx
D
3.0 ft 7.0 ft
RAy RCy
500lb
Method of Joints
Using Truss Dimensions to Find Angles
B
tan1 opp
adj
4.0 ft
4.0 ft

A θ1 tan1 4.0
θ ft 2 C
D 3.0 ft
3.0 ft 7.0 ft

## 1 tan 4.0

1

3.0
153.130
Method of Joints
Using Truss Dimensions to Find Angles

tan1 opp B
adj
4.0 ft 4.0 ft

tan1 A θ
4.0 ft θ2 C
7.0 ft1

D
3.0 ft 7.0 ft

## 1 tan 4.0

1

7.0
129.745
Method of Joints
Draw a free body diagram of each pin.

A 53.130° 29.745° C
RAx
D
RAy 500lb
RCy
Every member is assumed to be in tension. A positive
answer indicates the member is in tension, and a negative
answer indicates the member is in compression.
Method of Joints
Where to Begin
Choose the joint that has the least number of unknowns.
Reaction forces at joints A and C are both good choices to
begin our calculations.

BD
A C
RAx AD CD
0 D

## 350lb 500lb 150lb

RAy RCy
Method of Joints

FY  0
RAy  AB y  0
437.50 lb
350lb  AB sin53.130  0
AB
AB sin53.130  350lb
A 53.130
AD
350lb
AB 
350 lb sin53.130
AB  438 lb
Method of Joints
Update the all force diagrams based on AB
being under compression.

BD
A C
RAx= 0 AD CD
D

## RAy= 350lb 500lb RCy= 150lb

Method of Joints

 FX  0
 ABx  AD  0
437.50 lb cos53.130  AD  0
AB  437.50 lb
AD  437.50 lb cos53.130
A 53.130
AD AD  262.50 lb
262.50 lb
350 lb
Method of Joints

FY  0
RCy  BC y  0
302.33 lb 150 lb  BC sin 29.745  0
BC
29.745 C BC sin 29.745  150 lb
CD
150lb
BC 
150 lb sin 29.745
BC  302 lb
Method of Joints
Update the all force diagrams based on BC
being under compression.

BD
A C
RAx= 0 AD CD
D

## RAy= 350lb 500lb RCy= 150lb

Method of Joints

 FX  0

BCx  CD  0

302.33 lb cos29.745  CD  0
BC  302.33 lb
29.745 C CD  302.33 lb cos29.745
CD
262.50 lb CD  262.50 lb

150 lb
Method of Joints

500lb
BD FY  0

D
BD  FD  0
BD  500lb  0
BD  500lb
500lb