Monday, December 23, 2013


Some trusses have bars with zero force under certain loads.  The example here has zero force in bars HG, LM, and PG under the given  load.  Under asymmetrical loads these bars would not be zero and, therefore, cannot be eliminated.  Bars with zero force have  vectors of zero length in the equilibrium polygon and, therefore, have both letters at the  same location.  

Tension and compression in truss bars can be visually verified by deformed shape (4),  exaggerated for clarity.  Bars in tension will elongate; bars in compression will shorten.  

In the truss illustrated the top chord is in compression; the bottom chord is in tension;  inward sloping diagonal bars in tension; outward sloping diagonal bars in compression.

Since diagonal bars are the longest and, therefore, more likely subject to buckling, they  are best oriented as tension bars.

1 Truss diagram
2 Force polygon
3  Tabulated bar forces (+ implies tension, - compression)
4  Deformed truss to visualize tension and compression bars
A  Bar elongation causes tension
B  Bar shortening causes compression

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