Investigation into the effective lengths of web compression elements in parallel chord trusses
Thesis (MScEng (Civil Engineering))--Stellenbosch University, 2008.
The Southern African Institute of Steel Construction expressed concern with regard to the unit definition of the effective length factor, K, stipulated for compressive elements of parallel chord trusses in Clause 15 of SANS 10162-1:2005 - Limit state design of hot-rolled steelwork. The simplified method for truss design specified in the code assumes all compression members are pin-connected, which allows for greater design simplicity and reduces the amount of code interpretation required by the designer. In addition to this, Clause 15 requires the additional reduction in resistance of the first web compression members by a factor of 0.85. However, this approach may be considered overly conservative and in current design practice the effective length factor is often reduced to less than 1.0. This research investigates the effective length factor of web compression members in parallel chord trusses, by means of investigative structural analyses of representative trusses using ANGELINE and Prokon analytical programs, and by designing, constructing and testing six representative trusses, using current design practices. A comparative study of a number of different countries’ codified approaches to truss design is also included. The structural analyses revealed that in-plane buckling of the web compression members was the consistent mode of failure, however at a much greater applied load than the design load determined according to SANS 10162-1:2005. Contrary to the expected mode of failure, all six tests performed on the representative trusses exhibited elastic out-of-plane buckling, or strongaxis buckling, of the web compression members, but still at a much greater applied load than the design load. The unexpected out-of-plane buckling of the web members is due to the inplane stiffness of the end connections used. In order to stay true to current design practice, gusset plates and longitudinal welds were used to join the web members to the chords. The stiffness of the gusset plates therefore significantly reduced the effective length of the web compression members in-plane, but did not reduce the effective length out-of-plane. Despite the unanticipated behaviour of the tests performed, certain conclusions can still be drawn from the results. The unit definition of the effective length factor for in-plane buckling of web compression members is too conservative and a K factor of 0.8 is recommended. In addition to this an effective length factor for out-plane-buckling of web compression members of 1.1 is recommended for trusses with welded connections. The necessity of the reduction in resistance of 0.85 of the first web compression members requires further investigation. The most important conclusion to be drawn is that out-of-plane buckling of web compression members can be the dominant failure mode, which is not taken into consideration in current design practice.