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Title: The Anatomy of Bridgework
Author: Thorpe, William Henry
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Anatomy of Bridgework" ***

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Transcriber's Notes:

Text between underscores represents _italics_, small capitals have been
transcribed as ALL CAPITALS.

Curly brackets indicate {subscripts}; letters between square brackets
(such as [T] and [U]) represent the shape rahter than the letter itself.

More Transcriber's Notes may be found at the end of this text.







  New York



In offering this little book to the reader interested in Bridgework, the
author desires to express his acknowledgments to the proprietors of
“Engineering,” in which journal the papers first appeared, for their
courtesy in facilitating the production in book form.

It may possibly happen that the scanning of these pages will induce
others to observe and collect information extending our knowledge of
this subject--information which, while familiar to maintenance engineers
of experience, has not been so readily available as is desirable.

No theory which fails to stand the test of practical working can
maintain its claims to regard; the study of the behaviour of old work
has, therefore, a high educational value, and tends to the occasional
correction of views which might otherwise be complacently retained.

  _October_, 1906.





  Pressure distribution--Square and skew bearings--Fixed bearings--
  Knuckles--Rollers--Yield of supports                                 1



  _Plate webs_: Improper loading of flanges--Twisting of girders--
  Remedial measures--Cracks in webs--Stiffening of webs--[T]
  stiffeners                                                           9

  _Open webs_: Common faults--Top booms--Buckling of bottom booms--
  Counterbracing--Flat members                                        17



  Liability to defects--Impact--Ends of cross and longitudinal
  girders--Awkward riveting--Fixed ends to cross girders--Plated
  floor--Liberal depths desirable--Type connections--Effect of “skew”
  on floor--Water-tightness--Drainage--Timber floors--Jack arches--
  Corrugated sheeting--Ballast--Rail joints--Effect of main girders
  on floors                                                           20



  Effect of bracing on girders--Influence of skew on bracing--Flat
  bars--Overhead girders--Main girders stiffened from floor--
  Stiffening of light girders--Incomplete bracing--Tall piers--Sea
  piers                                                               34



  Latitude in practice--Laboratory experiments--Care in considering
  practical instances--Main girder web rivets--Lattice girders
  investigated--Rivets in small girders--Faulty bridge floor--
  Stresses in rivets--Cross girder connections--Tension in rivets--
  Defective rivets--Loose rivets--Table of actual rivet stresses--
  Bearing pressure--Permissible stresses--Proposed table--Immunity of
  road bridges from loose rivets--Rivet spacing                       45



  Elastic limit--Care in calculation--Impact--Examples of high stress
  --Early examples of high stress in steel girders--Tabulated
  examples--General remarks                                           61



  Various kinds--Flexing of girder flanges--Examples--Settlement
  deformations--Creeping--Temperature changes--Local distortions--
  Imperfect workmanship--Deformation of cast-iron arches              73



  Differences as between new work and old--Influence of booms and web
  structure on deflection--Yield of rivets and stiffness of
  connections--Working formulæ--Set--Effect of floor system--
  Deflection diagrams--Loads quickly applied--“Drop” loads--Flexible
  girders--Measuring deflections--New method of observing deflections
  --Effect of running load                                            85



  Examples of rusting of wrought-iron girders--Girder over sea-water
  --Rate of rusting--Steelwork--Precautions--Red-lead--Repainting--
  Scraping--Girders built into masonry--Cast iron--Effect of sea-
  water on cast iron--Examples--Tabulated observations--Percentage of
  submersion--Quality of metal                                        96



  Purpose--Methods of examination--Calculations--Stress in old work--
  Methods of reducing stress--Repair--Loose rivets--Replacing wasted
  flange plates--Adding new to old sections--Principles governing
  additions--Example--Strengthening lattice girder bracings--Bracing
  between girders--Strengthening floors--Distributing girders        107



  Principal methods in use--Method of calculation--Adjustments--
  Connections--Method of execution--Checks--Effect of skew on method
  considered--Results of calculation for a typical case--Probable
  error--Practical examples--Special case--Method of determining
  flexure curves                                                     122



  Limitations of cast iron--Stress examples--Advantages and
  disadvantages--Foundry stresses--Examples--Want of ductility of
  cast iron--Repairs--Restricted possibilities                       141



  Perishable nature--Causes of decay--Sag--Lateral bracing--Piles--
  Uncertainty respecting decay--Examples--Conditions and practice
  favourable to durability--Bracing--Protection--Repair--Piles--Cost 149



  Definition--Cause of defects or failure--Spreading of abutments--
  Closing in--Example--Stop piers--Example of failure--Strength of
  rubble arch--Equilibrium of arches--Effect of vibration on masonry
  --Safety centring--Methods of repair--Pointing--Rough dressed
  stonework                                                          157



  Previous history--Causes of limited life--Tabulated examples of
  short-lived metallic bridges--Timber and masonry bridges--
  Durability--Maintenance charges--First cost--Comparative merits--
  Choice of material                                                 165




  Measuring up--Railway under-bridges--Methods of reconstruction in
  common use--Reconstruction of bridges of many openings--Timber
  staging--Traffic arrangements--Sunday work--Railway over-bridges--
  Widenings--Junction of new and old work--Concluding remarks--Study
  of old bridgework                                                  172

  INDEX                                                              187




No book has, so far as the author is aware, been written upon that
aspect of bridgework to be treated in the following pages. No excuse
need, therefore, be given for adding to the already large amount of
published matter dealing with bridges. Indeed, as it too often happens
that the designing of such constructions, and their after-maintenance,
are in this country entirely separated, it cannot but be useful to give
such results of the behaviour of bridges, whether new or old, as have
come under observation.

In the early days of metallic bridges there was of necessity no
experience available to guide the engineer in his endeavour to avoid
objectionable features in design, and he was, as a result, compelled to
rely upon his own foresight and judgment in any attempt to anticipate
the effects of those influences to which his work might later be
subject. How heavily handicapped he must have been under these
conditions is evident from the mass of information since acquired by the
experimental study of the behaviour of metals under stress, and the
growth of the literature of bridgework during the last forty years. That
many mistakes were made is little occasion for surprise; rather is it a
cause for admiration that some very fine bridges, still in use, were
the product of that time. Much may be learned from the study of defects
and failures, even though they be of such a character that no
experienced designer would now furnish like examples.

Modern instances may, none the less, be found, with faults repeated,
which should long since have disappeared from all bridgework, and are
only to be accounted for by the unnatural divorce of design and
maintenance already referred to. As the reader proceeds, it may appear
that details are occasionally touched upon of a character altogether too
crude and objectionable to need comment; but the consideration of these
cases is none the less interesting, and, so far as the author’s
observation goes, not altogether unnecessary.

Most of the instances cited are of bridges, or parts of bridges, of
quite small dimensions; but it is these which most commonly give
trouble, both because the effects of impact are in such cases most
severely felt, and possibly because the smaller class of bridges is very
generally designed by men of less experience, than large and imposing

The particulars given relate in all cases to bridges of wrought iron,
unless otherwise described.

An endeavour has been made to secure some kind of order in dealing with
the subject, but it has been found difficult to avoid a somewhat
disjointed treatment, inseparable, perhaps, from the nature of the
matter. Finally, the reader may be assured that every case quoted has
come under the writer’s personal notice.


In girder-work generally, and more particularly in plate-girders,
considerable latitude obtains in the amount of bearing allowed. Clearly,
the surface over which the pressure is distributed should be
sufficiently ample to avoid overloading and possible crushing or
fracture of bedstones where these exist; but if no knuckles are
introduced, this is an extremely difficult matter to insure. A long
bearing may deliver the load at the extreme end of the surface on which
it rests, or, more probably, near the face.

If the girder is made with truly level bearings, and the beds set level,
it will certainly, when under load, throw an extreme pressure upon that
part of the bearing surface immediately under the forward edge of the
bearing-plate. These considerations probably account for bedstones
frequently cracking, in addition to which possibility there is the
disadvantage that the designer does not know where the girder will rest,
and cannot truly define the span. The variation of flange-stress due to
this cause may, in a girder of ordinary proportions, having bearings
equal in length to the girder’s depth, be as much as 15 per cent. above
or below that intended.

If great care be taken in setting beds, in the first instance, to dip
toward the centre of the span an amount depending upon the anticipated
girder deflection, it may be possible to insure that when under full
load the girder bearing shall rest equally upon its seat; but this is
evidently a difficult condition to obtain practically, is good only for
one degree of loading, and may at any time be nullified by a disturbance
of the supports, as, for instance, the very common occurrence of a
slight leaning forward of abutment walls.

Double or treble thicknesses of hair-felt are sometimes placed beneath
girder bearings, with the object of securing a better distribution of
pressure, no doubt with advantage; but this practice, though it may be
quite satisfactory as applied to girders carrying an unchangeable load,
hardly meets the case for loads which are variable. Notwithstanding the
faulty nature of the plain bearing ordinarily used for girders of
moderate span, its extreme simplicity commends it to most engineers. It
must be admitted that no serious inconvenience need be anticipated in
the majority of cases, particularly if the bearings are limited in
length, do not approach nearer than 3 inches to the face of bedstones,
and are furnished with hair-felt or similar packing.

[Illustration: FIG. 1.]

Whether with long or short bearings, the forward edge should be at right
angles to the girder’s length. In skew bridges it is sometimes seen that
this edge follows the angle of skew. The effect on the girder is to
twist it, as will be clear from a little consideration. In evidence of
this the case may be quoted of a lattice girder of 95 feet effective
span and 7 feet deep, which, resting on a skew abutment right up to the
masonry face at a rather bad angle (about 15 degrees), was, after twenty
years, found canted over at the top to the extent of 4 inches, with the
further result of springing a joint in the top flange at about the
middle of the girder, causing some rivets to loosen. The bedstone was
also very badly broken at the face, and had to be replaced in the course
of repairs (Fig. 1). This girder had, in addition to the canting from
the upright position at its end, and the distortion of the top flange, a
curvature in the same direction, though less in amount, at the
bottom--an effect very common in the main girders of skew bridges, and
possibly accounted for in part by a tendency of the girder end to creep
along the abutment away from the point at which it bears hardest, under
frequent applications and removals of the live load, and accompanying

This tendency to travel may be aggravated in bridges carrying a
ballasted road, in which there may be a considerable thickness of
ballast near the bearings, by the compacting and spreading of this
material taking effect upon the girder end, tending to push it outwards,
being tied only by a few light cross-girders badly placed for useful
effect. The movement may be prevented in new work for moderate angles of
skew by carrying the end cross-girders well back, and securing them in
some efficient manner; or by the introduction of a diagonal tie
following the skew face, and attached to cross and main girder flanges
(Fig. 2)--a method which may be applied to existing work also.

[Illustration: FIG. 2.]

For such a case as that cited it is imperative that ballast pressure at
the girder end should be altogether eliminated.

The fixing of girder ends by bolts--a practice at one time usual--hardly
calls for remark, as it is now seldom resorted to unless for special
reasons; but it may be well to point out the weakening effect of holes
for any purpose in bedstones. Bed-plates commonly need no fixing; the
weight carried keeps them in position, or if, in the case of very light
girders upon separate plates, it is considered well to secure these from
shifting, it may best be done by letting the plate in bodily a small
amount, or by means of a very shallow feather sunk into a chase.

[Illustration: FIG. 3.]

As an improvement upon the plain bearing usually adopted, it is an easy
matter so to design girder-ends as to deliver the load by a narrow strip
of bearing-plate carried across the bottom flange, distributing the
pressure upon the stone, if there be one, by means of a simple
rectangular plate of sufficient stoutness (Fig. 3). An imperfect knuckle
will by this means result, with freedom to slide, and the girder span be
defined within narrow limits. A true knuckle is, of course, the best
means of securing imposition of the load always in the same place; but
this by itself is not sufficient where the girder is of a length to make
temperature and stress variations important, in which case rollers, or
freedom to slide, become necessary. Bridges exist in which
roller-bearings have been adopted without the knuckle, or its
equivalent, but this is wholly indefensible, as it is obvious that the
forward roller will in all probability take the whole load, and cannot
be expected to keep its shape and roll freely under this mal-treatment.
It is sometimes asserted that rollers are never effective after some
years’ use; that they become clogged with dirt, and refuse to perform
their office.

There is no reason why rollers should not be boxed in to exclude dirt by
a casing easily removed, some attention being given to them, and any
possible accumulation of dirt removed each time the bridge is painted.

To test the behaviour of rollers under somewhat unfavourable conditions
for their proper action--that of the bearings of main roof trusses of
crescent form, 190 feet span--the author, some thirty years since, took
occasion to make the necessary observations, and found evidence of a
moderate roller movement, though there was in this case no direct
horizontal member to communicate motion. With girders resting upon
columns, particularly if of cast iron, a roller and knuckle arrangement
is most desirable for any but very small spans, as, if not adopted, the
result will be a canting of the columns from side to side--a very small
amount, it is true, but sufficient to throw the load upon the extreme
edges of the base, though the knuckle alone will relieve the top of this
danger. The author at one time took the trouble to examine, so far as it
could be done superficially and without opening out the ground to make a
complete inspection possible, a number of bridges crossing streets, in
which girders rested upon and were secured to cast-iron columns standing
in the line of kerb; and he found cracks, either at the top or bottom,
in about one of every four columns.

When girders passing over columns are not continuous, it may be
difficult to find room for a double roller and knuckle arrangement; but
this inconvenience may be overcome by carrying one girder-end wholly
across the column-top, and securing the next girder-end to it in a
manner which a little care and ingenuity will render satisfactory, one
free bearing then serving to carry the load from both girders.

Though the wisdom of using rollers is apparent in spans exceeding some
moderate length, say 80 feet--as to which engineers do not seem quite
decided--and varying with the conditions, it need not be overlooked that
in some cases masonry will be sufficiently accommodating to render them
unnecessary; piers, if sufficiently tall and slender, will yield a small
amount without injury, and though shorter, if resting upon a bottom not
absolutely rigid, will rock and give the necessary relief; but it is
obvious, if the resistance to movement is sufficiently great, and the
girder cannot slide or roll on its bearings, bedstones will probably
loosen, as, indeed, frequently happens.



It is seldom that girders of this description--or, indeed, of any
other--show signs of failure from mere defect of strength in the
principal parts, even though somewhat highly stressed; and instances
tending to support this statement will be given in a later chapter. For
the present, it is proposed to indicate peculiarities of behaviour only,
generally, but not always, harmless.

Though now less often done, it was at one time common practice to load
plate-girders on the bottom flange by simply resting floor timbers,
rails, troughs, or cross-girders upon them. In outside girders one
result of this is to cause the top flange to take a curve in plan,
convex towards the road, every time the live load comes upon the floor
of the bridge, upon the passing of which the flange resumes its figure,
though still affected by that part of the load which is constant.

A bridge of 47 feet span, carrying two lines of way, having one centre
and two outside girders, with a floor consisting of old Barlow rails,
resting upon the bottom flanges, showed the peculiarity named in a
marked degree.

The outside girders, under dead load only, were, as to the top flanges
(see Figs. 4 and 5), 1-1/4 inch and 1-1/16 inch respectively out of
straight in their length, but upon the passing of a goods engine and
train curved an additional 1-1/8 inch, or 2-3/8 inches in all, for one
outside girder, and 2-3/16 inches for the other.

The centre girder, having a broader and heavier top flange, curved 5/8
inch towards whichever road might be loaded. The effect of such
horizontal flexure is clearly to induce stresses of tension and
compression in the flanges, which, being (for the top flange) compounded
with the normal compressive stress due to load carried, results in a
considerable want of uniformity across the section.

[Illustration: FIG. 4.]

In the case under notice, the writer estimates the stresses for an outer
girder top flange at 4·5 tons per square inch compression for simple
loading, and 5·5 tons per square inch of tension and compression, on the
inner and outer edges, due to flexure, resulting when compounded in a
stress of 1 ton per square inch tension on the inside, and 10 tons per
square inch compression on the outside edge. In this rather extreme case
the stress on the inner edge, or that nearest the load, is reversed in

The effect described appears to be not wholly due to the twisting
moment. It is apparent that whatever curvature may be induced by
twisting alone must be aggravated in the compression flange by its being
put out of line.

The writer does not attempt here to apportion the two effects in any
other way than to say that the greater part of the flexure appears to be
due to the secondary cause. Consistent with this view of the matter is
the fact that the inclination of the girder towards the rails greatly
exceeded the calculated slope of the Barlow rail-ends when under load,
being about five times as great. The inference is that the floor rails
bore hard at their extreme ends, at which point of bearing the
calculated twisting moment accounts for less than one-half of the
flexure observed in the flanges.

[Illustration: FIG. 5.]

The girders upon removal in the course of reconstruction again took the
straight form, showing that the very frequent development of the
stresses named had not sensibly injured the metal, though the bridge
carried as many as three hundred trains daily in each direction, and had
done so for very many years.

The deformation of the top flange only has been noticed, yet the same
tendency exists in the bottom, though the actual amount is much less,
both because the lower flanges are in tension, and are also in great
degree confined by the frictional contact of the cross bearers, even
where no proper ties are used. In the case dealt with the bottom flanges
of the outer girders curved 1/8 inch outwards only.

With the broad flanges commonly adopted in English practice, twisting of
the girders, under conditions similar to the above, will not generally
be a serious matter; but with narrow flanges possessing little lateral
stiffness it might be a source of danger.

[Illustration: FIG. 6. FIG. 7.]

The twisting may be limited in amount by introducing a cross-frame
between the girders, from which they are stiffened; by strutting the
girders immediately from the floor itself, in which case they cannot
cant to a greater extent than that which corresponds to the floor
deflection; or by designing the top flange to be unsymmetrical with
reference to the web, as in Figs. 6 and 7, with the object of insuring
that under the joint effect of vertical loading and twisting, the stress
in the flange shall at maximum loads be uniform across the section, and
allow it to remain straight. This may be secured by making the
eccentricity of the flange section equal to that of the loading. For
instance, if the load be applied 3 inches away from the web centre, the
flange should have its centre of gravity 3 inches on the other side of
the centre line. It can be shown that this is true throughout the length
of the girder, and irrespective of the depth. An instance in which
flange eccentricity being in excess, curvature outwards resulted, will
be found in a later chapter on deformations, etc. It will not generally
be necessary to make the bottom flange eccentric, as it is commonly tied
in some way; but if done, the eccentricity should be on the same side as
for the top. The flanges remaining straight under these conditions are
not subject to the complications of stress referred to in the case first
quoted. The author has adopted both the last named details in bridges
where he has been obliged to accept unfair loading of the kind

It should be remarked that by the two first methods, if the stiffening
frames are wide apart and attached direct to the web, there is a
liability for this to tear, under distress, rather than keep the girder
in line.

There is one other possible consequence of throwing load upon the
flanges of a girder of a much more alarming nature. In girders not very
well stiffened, it may happen that the frequent application of load in
this manner finally so injures the web-plate, just above the top edge of
the bottom angle-bars, as to cause it to rip in a horizontal direction.
More likely is this to happen with a centre girder taking load first on
one side, then on the other, and again on both together. Cases may be
cited in which cracks right through the webs 3 feet or more in length
have resulted from this cause. It is very probable, however, that in
some of these cases the matter was aggravated by the use of a poor iron
in the webs, as at one time engineers, from mistaken notions of the
extreme tenuity permissible in webs near the centre of a girder, would,
if they could not be made thin enough, even encourage the use of an
indifferent metal as being quite good enough for that part of the work.

An instance of web-fracture from somewhat similar causes may be here

In a bridge of 31 feet 6 inches effective span, and consisting of twin
girders carrying rails between, as shown in Figs. 8 and 9, the load
resting upon the inner ledges, formed by the bottom flange, induced
such a bending and tearing action along the web just above the
angle-bars, as to cause a rip in one of the girders, well open for some
distance, and which could be traced for 14 feet as a continuous crack.

[Illustration: FIG. 8.]

[Illustration: FIG. 9.]

It will be noticed in the figure that the [T] stiffeners occur only at
the outer face of the web, and that the inner vertical strips stop short
at the top edge of the angles, the result being that under load the
flange would tend to twist around some point, say A, at each stiffener,
inducing a serious stress in the thin web at that place, while away from
these stiffeners the web would be more free to yield without tearing.
The fact that at a number of the stiffeners incipient cracks were
observed, some only a few inches long, suggests this view of the matter.

A case of web-failure from other influences coming under notice showed
breaks at the upper part of the web extending downwards.

In this bridge, of 32 feet span, which had been in existence thirty-two
years, the webs--originally 1/4 inch thick--were, largely because of
cinder ballast in contact with them, so badly wasted as to be generally
little thicker than a crown-piece, and in places were eaten through; in
addition to which, the road being on a sharp curve, the rail-balks had
been strutted from the webs to keep them in position, the effect of
which would be to exert a hammering thrust upon the face of the web at
the abutting ends, and assist in starting cracks in webs already much
corroded. A feature of this case, tending to show that the breaks
resulted as the joint effect of waste and ill-usage by the strut
members, rather than by excessive stress in the web as reduced, is to be
found in the fact that the girders when removed were observed to be in
remarkably good shape--i.e. the camber, marked on the original drawings
to be 1-1/2 inch, still showed as a perfectly even curve of that rise,
which would hardly have been the case if the lower flange had been let
down by web-rupture, the result of excessive web-stresses.

Occasionally webs will crack through the solid unwasted plate, in a line
nearly vertical; not where shear stress is greatest, but generally at
some other place, and from no apparent cause, either of stress or
ill-usage. The writer has observed this only in the case of small
girders not exceeding 2 feet in depth; and, for want of any better
reason, attributes these cracks to poor material, coupled with some
latent defect. In a bridge having some thirty cross-girders, each 26
feet long, about every other one had a web cracked in this manner after
many years’ use.

Web-cracks of the kind first indicated, are perhaps, the most probable
source of danger in plate-girders, of any which are likely to occur. The
fault is insidious, difficult to detect when first developed, and
perhaps not seen at all till the bridge, condemned for some other
reason, has the girders freely exposed and brought into broad light. The
manner in which old girders are sometimes partly concealed by
timberwork, or covered by ballast, makes the detection of these defects
an uncertain matter, unless sufficient trouble is occasionally taken to
render inspection complete.

The manner in which girders with wasted and fractured webs will still
hang together under heavy loading seems to warrant the deduction that,
in designing new work, it can hardly be necessary to provide such a
considerable amount of web-stiffening as is sometimes seen; experience
showing that defects of the web-structure do not commonly occur in the
stiffening so frequently as in the plate, and then in the form of

A case of web-buckling lies, so far, without the author’s experience.
There is no need to introduce, for web-stresses alone, more stiffening
than that which corresponds to making the stiffeners do duty as vertical
struts in an openwork girder; in which case it is sufficient to insure
that the stiffeners occurring in a length equal to the girder’s depth
shall, as struts, be strong enough in the aggregate to take the whole
shear force at the section considered, in no case exceeding this amount
on one stiffener. For thin webs in which the free breadth is greater
than one hundred and twenty times the thickness, the diagonal
compressive stress may be completely ignored, and the thickness
determined with reference to the diagonal tension stress only.

There is one fault which frequently shows itself in stiffeners though
not the result of web-stresses, and when performing an additional
function--viz., the breaking of [T] stiffener knees at the weld, where
brought down on to the tops of cross-girders, due to the deflection of
the floor, as shown in Fig. 10. When such knees are used, the angle may
properly be filled in with a gusset-plate to relieve the weld of strain
and prevent fracture.

[Illustration: FIG. 10.]

There is some little temptation in practice to make use of the solid web
as a convenient stop for ballast, or road material. Special means,
perhaps at the cost of some little trouble, should be adopted, where
necessary, to avoid this.


With these, as with plate-girders, deficiency of strength--i.e. of
section strength--is seldom so marked as to be a reasonable cause of
anxiety. In particular instances faults in design may result in stresses
of an abnormal amount, though rarely to an extent occasioning any ill
effects. The practice of loading the bottom flanges at a distance from
the centre, the bad effects of which have already been dealt with as
applied to plate-girders, is not commonly resorted to in girders having
open webs, nor are these so liable to be heaped with ballast in
immediate proximity to essential members of the structure.

Some defects are, however, occasionally seen which may be remarked. Top
booms of an inverted [U] section are sometimes made with side webs too
thin, and having the lower edges stiffened insufficiently, or not at
all. Where this is the case, the plates may be seen to have buckled out
of truth, showing that they are unable, as thin plates, to sustain the
compressive stress to which the rest of the boom is liable. The practice
of putting the greater part of the boom section in an outer flange,
characteristic of this defect, has the further disadvantage of throwing
the centre of gravity of the section so near its outer edge as to make
impracticable the best arrangement of rivets for connection of the web
members. Further, since all the variation in boom section is thrown into
the flange-plates, the centre of gravity of the section has no constant
position along the boom--an additional inconvenience where correct
design is aimed at.

These considerations indicate the propriety of arranging the bulk, or
all, of the section at the sides, thus reducing or getting rid of the
objections named.

Where the bottom boom consists of side plates, only one point demands
attention. It is found that, though nominally in tension, the end bays
are liable occasionally to buckle, as though under compressive stress,
and need stiffening, not excepting girders which at one end are mounted
on rollers. This might seem to indicate that the rollers are of no use;
but it is conceivable the resistance arises from other causes, such as
wind forces, or as in the case of a bridge carrying a railway, in which
the rigidity of the permanent-way may be such that the bridge-structure,
in extending towards the roller end, cannot move it sufficiently,
causing a reversal of stress on the lighter portions of the bottom boom
at the knuckle end; or by the exposed girder booms becoming very
sensibly hotter than the bridge floor, and by expanding at a greater
rate, cause this effect, from which rollers cannot protect them.

In counterbracing consisting of flat bars it is desirable either to
secure these where they cross other members, or stiffen them in some
manner to avoid the disagreeable chattering which will otherwise
commonly be found to occur on the passage of the live load.

Occasionally diagonal ties are made up of two flat bars placed face to
face, to escape the use of one very thick member. Where this is done,
the two thicknesses, if not riveted together along the edges, will be
liable to open, as the result of rusting between the bars in contact,
when the evil will be aggravated by the greater freedom with which
moisture will enter the space.

Other matters relating to open-web girders will be more conveniently
dealt with under their separate headings, particularly a further
consideration of the relationship subsisting between the booms and floor



The floors of bridges commonly give more trouble in maintenance, and
their defects are more frequently the cause which renders reconstruction
necessary, apart from reasons not concerning strength, than any other
part of such structures. When it is considered that this portion of a
bridge is first affected by impact of the load which comes upon it, and
is usually light in comparison with the main girders further removed
from the load, and to which the latter is transferred through the more
or less elastic floor, the fact will be readily appreciated by those not
already familiar with it.

The end attachments of cross and longitudinal girders are very liable to
suffer by loosening of rivets, or, more rarely, by breaking of the
angle-irons which commonly make such a connection. A not unusual defect
of old work, which may also sometimes be seen in work quite new, where
the cross-girder depth has from any cause been restricted, is the
extremely cramped position of the rivets securing the ends. There is
small chance of these ever being properly tight, if the act of riveting
is rendered difficult by bad design. This is the more objectionable if
it happens that cross-girder ends abut against opposite sides of the web
of an intermediate main girder, and are secured by the same rivets
passing through. At the best such rivets will not be well placed to
insure good workmanship, and the severe treatment to which they become
subject, as the cross-girders take their load and deflect under it,
will be very apt to loosen them. The author has seen a case of this kind
(see Figs. 11 and 12)--rather extreme, it is true--in which nearly the
whole of the cross-girder end rivets were loose, some nearly worn
through, thus allowing the cross-girders to be carried, not by their
attachments, but by resting upon the main-girder flanges, which in turn,
by repeated twisting, tore the web for a length of 4 feet; there was
also pronounced side flexure of the top booms. The movements generally
on this bridge (of 42-feet span), whether of main or cross-girders, were
very considerable and disturbing. It was removed after about
twenty-three years’ use.

[Illustration: FIG. 11.]

[Illustration: FIG. 12.]

There is no necessity, as a rule, for the ends of cross-girders attached
to the same main girder at opposite sides to be placed in line. The
author prefers to arrange them to miss, by which device each connection
is entirely separate, the riveting can be more efficiently executed,
erection is simplified, and the rivets will be more likely to keep
tight. Other special cases of cross-girder ends will be dealt with under
the head “Riveted Connections.”

It is sometimes contended that cross-girders attached at their ends by a
riveted connection should be designed as for fixed ends, in which case
they are usually made of the same flange section throughout, with a view
to satisfy the supposed requirements. But a girder to be rightly
considered as having fixed ends must be secured to something itself
unyielding. With an outer main girder of ordinary construction, and no
overhead bracing, this is so far from being the case as to leave little
occasion for taking the precaution named. As the cross-girders deflect,
the main girders will commonly yield slightly, inclining bodily towards
the cross-girders, if these are attached to the lower part of the main
girders. The force requisite to cant the main girders in this manner is
usually less than that which corresponds to fixing the cross-girder
ends, and is, generally, slight. It is, of course, necessary that this
measure of resistance at the connection should be borne in mind for the
sake of the joint itself, quite apart from any question of fixing.

Possibly, in quite exceptional cases, where very stiff main girders are
braced in such a manner as to prevent canting, it may be proper to
consider the cross-girder ends as fixed, or for those near the bearings
of heavy main girders; but the author has not met with any example where
cross-girders, apart from attachments, appear to have suffered from
neglect of this consideration.

With cross-girders placed on either side of a main girder, and in line,
it may also, for new work, be desirable to regard the ends as fixed, and
to detail them with this in view. It does not, however, appear wise to
carry this assumption to its logical issue, and reduce the flange
section to any appreciable extent on this account. The fixity of the
ends will, in any such case, be imperfect; and when one side only of an
intermediate main girder is loaded, it can have but a moderate effect in
reducing flange stress at the middle of the loaded floor beam.

[Illustration: FIG. 13. FIG. 14. FIG. 15.]

Similar reasons affect the design of longitudinal girder attachments to
cross-girders, which, if intended to support rails, cannot of necessity
be schemed to come other than in line. Where the floor is plated as one
plane surface, there will not usually be any trouble resulting if no
special precautions are used, as the plate itself will insure that the
longitudinals act, in a measure, as continuous beams, relieving the
joints of abnormal stress. If the plating is, however, designed in a
manner which does not present this advantage, or if the floor be of
timber, it is better to decide whether the connections shall be
considered as fixed, and made so; or avowedly flexible, and detailed in
such a manner as to possess a capacity for yielding slightly without
injury. Those connections are most likely to suffer which are neither of
the one character nor the other, offering resistance without the ability
to maintain it. Figs. 13, 14, and 15 give representations of three
“spring joint” methods of insuring yield in a greater or less degree.
For small longitudinals it is, perhaps, sufficient to use end angles
with very broad flanges against the cross-girder web; these to be
riveted in the manner indicated in Fig. 15.

Liberal depth to floor beams is distinctly advantageous where it can be
secured, rendering it easier to design the ends in a suitable manner, by
giving room near mid-depth of the attachment to get in the necessary
number of rivets; or where the ends are rigidly attached direct to
vertical members of an open-work truss, the greater depth is effective
in reducing the inclination of the end from the vertical, with a
correspondingly reduced cant of the main girders and flexure of the
vertical member, with smaller consequent secondary stresses. In any case
deep girders will contribute to stiffness of the floor itself,
favourable in railway bridges to the maintenance of permanent-way in
good order.

[Illustration: FIGS. 16, 17, 18.]

A point in connection with skew-bridge floors occasionally overlooked is
the combined effect of the skew, and main girder camber, in throwing the
floor structure out of truth, if no regard has been paid to this. The
result is bad cross-girder or other connections; or, in the case of
bearers running over the tops of main girders, a necessity for special
packings to bring all fair (Fig. 17). The author has in such cases,
where cross-girders are used, set the main girder beds at suitable
levels, in order that the cross-bearers may all be horizontal (see Figs.
16 and 18). This may not always be permissible; but, however the
difficulty may be met, it should be dealt with as part of the design.
For small angles of skew only may it be neglected.

Rivets attaching cross-girder angles to the web will occasionally
loosen, probably due in most cases to bad work, together with some
circumstance of aggravation, as in the case of a bridge floor consisting
of girders spaced 3 feet 6 inches apart, with short timber bearers
between, carrying rails. In many girders the top row of rivets, of
ordinary pitch and size, had loosened, allowing the web, about 1/4 inch
thick, a movement of 1/8 inch vertically. The rails being very close
down upon the cross-girder tops, though not intended to touch, had at
some time probably done so, and by “hammering” produced the result

Plated floors are often found which are objectionable on account of
their inability to hold water, arising sometimes from bad work, as often
from wide spacing of rivets. With rivets arranged to be easily got at,
and pitched not more than 3 inches apart, a tight floor may be expected;
but it is still necessary to drain the floor by a sufficient number of
holes, provided with nozzles projecting below the underside of the
plate, and sufficiently long to deliver direct into gutters, where these
are necessary. Drain-holes should not be less frequent than one to every
50 square feet of floor, if flat, and may advantageously be more so.
Gutters should slope well, and care be taken to insure practicable
joints and good methods of attachment--a matter too often left to take
care of itself, with considerable after-annoyance as a result.

The use of asphalt, or asphalt concrete, to render a plated floor
water-tight is hardly to be relied upon for railway bridges, though no
doubt effective for those carrying roads. It is extremely difficult to
insure that it shall stand the jarring and disturbance to which it may
be subject, and under which it will commonly break up, and make matters
worse by holding moisture, and delaying the natural drying of the floor.
In bulk, as in troughs, it may be useful, but in thin coverings on
plates it cannot be depended upon.

Floors having plated tops are sometimes finished over abutments or piers
in a manner which is not satisfactory, either as regards the carrying of
loads or accessibility for painting. If the plates are carried on to a
dwarf wall with the intention that the free margin of the plate shall
rest upon it, there will be a difficulty in securing this in an
efficient manner. Commonly such a wall is built up after the girder work
is in place, making it difficult to insure that the wall really supports
the plate, the result being that this may have to carry itself as best
it can. In any case, severe corrosion will occur on the underside, and
the plate rust through much before the rest of the floor; the masonry
also will usually be disturbed.

It appears preferable to form the end of the floor with a vertical
skirting-plate having an angle or angles along the lower edge. This may
come down to a dwarf wall, but preferably not to touch it, the skirting
being designed to act as a carrying girder. A convenient arrangement is
shown in Fig. 19, which may be used either for a square or skew bridge.
It will be seen that the plate-girders have no end-plates, the skirting
referred to being carried continuously along the floor edge, and
attached to each girder-web, the whole of the more important parts being
open to the painter.

[Illustration: FIG. 19.]

Trough floors consisting of one or other of the forms of pressed or
rolled section present the objection that it is almost impracticable to
arrange an efficient connection at the ends, if they abut against main
girders, and but little connection is, as a rule, attempted, and
sometimes none. The result is that the load from these troughs is
delivered in an objectionable manner, and the ends being open or
imperfectly closed, water and dirt escape on to the flange, or other
ledge, which supports them. A description of pressed floor which
promises to overcome this objection, and provide a ready means of
attachment to the webs of plate-girders, or of booms having vertical
plate-webs, has within the last few years been introduced. This has the
ends shaped in such a manner as to close them and provide a flat surface
of sufficient area for connection by rivets. Each hollow is separately
drained by holes with nozzles. Whether this type of trough will develop
faults of its own, due to over-straining of the metal in the act of
pressing, remains to be seen; but as it appears possible to produce the
desired form without any material thinning or thickening of the metal,
the contention that no severe usage accompanies the process appears to
be reasonable.

That form of troughing in which the top and bottom portions are
separately formed, and connected by a horizontal seam of rivets at
mid-depth, is found in use upon railway bridges to be very liable to
loosening of those rivets near the ends; less surprising, perhaps,
because the sloping sides are usually thin.

It is a distinctly difficult matter to join two or more lengths of any
trough flooring having sloping sides, in a workmanlike manner; the fit
of covers is apt to be imperfect, and some rivets, being difficult of
access, are likely to be but indifferently tight, so that if the joint
occurs where it will be more than lightly stressed, trouble will
probably follow. A bad place for such joints is immediately over girders
supporting the troughs, as there the stress will be most severe, any
leakage come directly upon the girder, and remedial measures be more
difficult to carry out.

Timber floors of the best timber, close jointed, are more durable than
might be supposed. The disadvantage is a difficulty in ascertaining the
precise condition of the timber after many years’ use. The author has
seen timbers, 9 inches by 9 inches, forming in one length a close floor,
carried by three girders, and supporting two lines of way, which, when
taken out, could as to a considerable part be kicked to pieces with the
foot; whilst in another case, with the same arrangement of girders and
close-timbered floor, the wood, after being in place for thirty-two
years, was, when taken out, found to be perfectly sound, with the
exception of a very few bad places of no great extent. In this instance,
however, it is known that the floor--pitch-pine--was put in by a
contractor who prided himself upon the quality of the timber that he
used; the floor being also covered with tar concrete, which had in this
instance so well performed its office as to keep the timber quite dry on
the top.

Jack arches between girders make an excellent floor for road bridges,
though heavy; and for small bridges may be used to carry rails, if the
girders are designed to be stiff under load. The apprehension that
brickwork or concrete will separate from the girder-work, or become
broken up under even moderate vibration, does not seem to be well
founded, if the deflection is small and the brickwork or concrete good.

The use of corrugated sheeting as a means of rendering the underside of
a bridge drop dry cannot be too strongly deprecated. If it must be
adopted, the arrangement should be such as to permit ready removal for
inspection and painting. It is evident that by boxing up the floor
structure, rust is favoured, and serious defects may be developed, not
to be discovered till the sheeting is removed, or something happens.

[Illustration: FIG. 20.]

A case may be instanced in which it was found, on taking down sheeting
of this description, that the floor girders, previously hidden, were
badly wasted in the webs. One of these girders had cracked, as shown in
Fig. 20, and others were in a condition only less bad.

In any floor carrying ballast or macadam, if means are not adopted to
keep the road material from the structure of the floor, or from the main
girders, corrosion may be serious in its effects. Cinder ballast is,
perhaps, the worst in this respect, in its action upon steel or
ironwork, being distinctly more damaging than any other kind commonly

Rail-joints upon bridge floors are to be avoided where practicable by
the use of rails as long as can be obtained; if the bridge is small
enough, crossing it in one length. At each joint there is likely to be
hammering and working extremely detrimental to floor members and
connections; indeed, it may happen that loose rivets will be found in
the neighbourhood of such joints, and nowhere else on the bridge. Where
rail-joints cannot be avoided, their position should, if there be any
choice, be judiciously selected, and the plate-layers taught to close
the joints and jam the fish-bolts.

[Illustration: FIG. 21.]

As rail-joints upon a bridge may injuriously affect the floor, so also
will a weak floor be very trying to the rails. A remarkable instance of
this has come under the writer’s notice, where a bridge (Fig. 21) of
three 33-feet spans, having outer and centre main girders, with
cross-girders spaced 3 feet apart, resting upon the girder flanges, but
not attached, and carrying two roads, had the permanent-way in a very
bad state. The rails proper, with supplementary angle-plates, rested
direct upon the cross-girders, which were decidedly light, and the whole
floor had much “life” in it, the ill-effect of which was shown in
thirteen breaks in the angle-plates, in each case near their ends,
generally at holes.

It appears probable that severe stresses may be thrown upon the parts of
a floor, whether placed at the level of the bottom booms or of the top,
by changes of length in the booms due to stress. The author has,
unfortunately, no direct evidence to offer in reference to this, tending
either for or against the contention. If an unplated floor of cross and
longitudinal girders of usual arrangement be at the bottom boom of a
large bridge, as the boom lengthens with the imposition of load upon the
bridge, all the cross-girders from the centre towards the abutments will
be curved horizontally, the middle portion being restrained by the
longitudinals from moving bodily with the ends. Each cross-girder except
that at the centre, if there be one, will thus present a figure in plan,
concave towards the abutment to which it is nearest. This will be
accompanied by stressing of the connections, and a transfer to the
longitudinals of as much of the tensile stress properly belonging to the
booms as the stiffness of the cross-girders may communicate.

This in itself will hardly be considerable, and will be the less on
account of a slight yielding which may be expected at the end
connections of each longitudinal; but the effect upon the cross-girders
by horizontal bending will be much marked. If the case be supposed of a
200-feet span in steel at ordinary loads and stresses, carrying one line
of way, with cross-girders 20 feet apart, and having no floor-plates, it
may be ascertained, neglecting for the moment any slight yielding of the
longitudinal girder connections, that upon the bridge taking its full
live load there will be the following approximate results: Movement at
each end of the end cross-girders of 3/10 inch, equivalent to a force of
7-1/2 tons, tending to bend them horizontally, and a mean stress on the
outer edges of the girders, 12 inches wide, of 8 tons per square inch
due to flexure, which, compounded with the ordinary flange stresses,
will seem to give rather alarming results. There will also be a
longitudinal stress in the rail-girders, at centre part of bridge, of
3/4 ton per square inch. Normal elongation of the longitudinal girder
bottom flanges, and compression of the top, modifies the figures
unfavourably as to the cross-girder top flange. Yielding of the
connections named before has been neglected in arriving at these
stresses. If they are sufficiently accommodating to give freely, to a
mean extent, as between the top and bottom of each joint, of 1/29 inch,
these results will disappear. It is evident, however, that we cannot
rely upon good work yielding without the existence of considerable
forces to cause it. In the issue it is justifiable to apprehend that the
flexing and stressing of the cross-girders will be considerable.

The most favourable case has been taken; if now it is assumed that the
floor has continuous plating, the results would seem to be much more
astonishing. It will appear on this supposition that the boom stresses,
instead of being taken wholly by the booms, are about equally divided
between these and the floor structure, each cross-girder connection
communicating its share of boom stress to the floor, which for the end
cross-girders will approach 40 tons at each connection--considerably
more than the vertical reaction under normal loads.

Palpably, these conclusions must be greatly modified by the yield of
longitudinal girder ends, and slip of the floor rivets in transverse
seams. If these rivets be 3-1/2 inch pitch and 3/4 inch in diameter, the
stress at each, as estimated, would be sufficient to induce shear of
about 6 tons per square inch--more than enough to cause “slip.” After
making this allowance, it is still evident there must be very serious
forces at work about the ends of cross-girders under the conditions
supposed, probably not less than one half the amounts named, as with
this reduction the floor rivets should not yield, given reasonably good
work. It is to be observed that the effect of live load only has been
introduced, on the presumption that the longitudinals and floor-plating
have not been riveted up till the main girders have been allowed to
carry the major part of the dead load; but even this cannot always be
conceded. The deduction appears to be that the floor and cross-girder
connections should be studied with special reference to these possible
effects, either with the object of rendering the communication of these
forces harmless, or making the floor so that it shall take little or no
stress from the main booms, by arranging joints across the floor
specially designed to yield, the ends of longitudinals being schemed
with the same object. Where there is no plating, the case is, perhaps,
sufficiently provided for by making the cross-girders narrow, and the
longitudinal girder connections flexible, or by putting these girders
upon the top of the cross-girders, when stretching of the bottom flanges
of the rail-bearers under load may be expected, within a little, to keep
pace with the lengthening of the main booms.

It would appear that light pressed troughs running across the
longitudinals would, by yielding in every section, also furnish relief,
as compared with the rigidity of flat plates.

By placing the floor at a level corresponding to the neutral axis of the
main girders, the communication of stress to the floor may be avoided;
but it seldom happens that there is so free a choice as to floor height
relative to the girders. This solution is, therefore, of limited

It is obvious that somewhat similar effects must obtain to those
considered in detail, when the floor structure lies at the level of top
booms, but with forces of compression from the booms to deal with,
instead of tension.



Bracing, whether to strengthen a structure against wind, to insure the
relative positions of its parts, or for any other purpose, cannot be
arranged with too great care and regard to its possible effects. Forces
may be induced which the connections will not stand, with loose rivets
as a consequence, and inefficiency of the bracing itself; or, the
connections holding good, stresses in the main structure may, perhaps,
be injuriously altered.

To take a not uncommon case, let us suppose a bridge consisting of four
main girders placed immediately under rails of ordinary gauge, and
braced in vertical planes only, right across from one outer girder to
the other. If the roads were loaded always at the same time, nothing
objectionable would result; but, as a fact, this will be the exception.
When one pair of girders only takes live load, and deflects, the bracing
under the six-foot will endeavour to communicate some part of this load
to the other pair of girders. If the bracing is so designed that some
correctly calculated portion of the load can be transferred in this
manner, without over-stressing the bars and riveted connections, there
will be no harmful consequences; but if not, the bracings will most
probably work at the ends; this, indeed, is what frequently happens.
There is one other effect which will ensue, if the bracing is wholly
efficient; a certain twisting movement of the bridge will occur, which
increases the live load upon the outer girder on the loaded side of the
bridge to the extent of 10 per cent., with a corresponding lifting force
at the outer girder on the unloaded side. These amounts are not serious,
but wholly dispose of any advantage it is conceived will be gained by
causing the otherwise idle girders to act through the medium of the
bracing. In road bridges of similar arrangement, over which heavy loads
may pass on any part of the surface, it is clear that the use of bracing
between girders should not be taken as justifying the assumption that
the load is distributed over many girders, and correspondingly light
sections adopted, unless the effect of twisting on the whole bridge is
also considered, and justifies this view; for, as already stated in the
case of the railway bridge, the net result may be to increase the girder
stresses instead of reducing them. Generally, it may be deduced that the
better plan for railway bridges is to brace the girders in pairs,
leaving, in the case supposed, no bracing between the two middle
girders, though there will be no objection to connecting these by simple
transverse members of no great stiffness, to assist in checking lateral
vibration. For road bridges of more than five longitudinal girders,
equally spaced, it may be advantageous to brace right across, the
twisting effect with this, or a greater, number of girders not, as a
rule, leading to any increase of load on any girder. Figs. 22 to 25 give
the distribution of live load, placed as shown, for 3, 4, 5, and 6

It is to be observed that these statements do not apply to cases where
there may be also a complete system of horizontal bracing, the effect of
which, in conjunction with cross diagonals, may be greatly different,
with considerable forces set up in the bracing, and a modification of
girder stresses.

These effects may be so considerable as to call for special attention in
design where such an arrangement is adopted.

[Illustration: FIG. 22.]

[Illustration: FIG. 24.]

[Illustration: FIG. 23.]

[Illustration: FIG. 25.]

Somewhat similar straining to that first indicated may occur in bracings
placed between the girders of a bridge much on the skew. If this is, on
plan, at right angles to the girders, as is commonly and properly the
case, the ends will evidently be attached to the girders at points on
their length at different distances from the bearings, which points,
even with both girders loaded, deflect dissimilar amounts, and the
bracing will, if at one end attached near a rigid bearing, transfer some
part of the load from one girder to the other, notwithstanding that
both girders may be of the same span and equal extraneous loading. It
would not be difficult to ascertain the amount of load so transferred
from a consideration of the relative movements if free, and the loads on
the two girders necessary to render these movements equal, if the
deflections were simply vertical; but as there will be some twisting and
yielding of the girders on their seats, the calculation becomes
involved. If the bracing is placed at about the middle of the girders,
the effects noted will be greatly reduced; first, because the difference
of movements near the centre will be less; second, any given difference
will correspond to a smaller transference of load; and, third, because
each girder will there be more free to twist than at the ends. It
therefore appears that bracings between the girders of a skew bridge
should not be placed near the bearings, though they may be put, with
much less risk of injury, near the middle.

Cross-girders on a skew bridge are subject to forces somewhat similar to
those which may affect bracing, rendering it desirable to design their
attachments in a manner which shall not aggravate the matter, but rather
reduce the effects of unequal vertical displacement of their ends where
secured to the main girders.

Crossed flat bars as bracing members are objectionable on account of
their tendency to rattle, after working loose; but as this effect only
ensues in bracing which has first become loose (it being assumed that
the bars in any case are connected where they cross), this objection is
not itself vital, though greater rigidity is easily obtained by making
all such members of a stiff section.

Defective bracing between girders, from neglect of the very considerable
forces it may be called upon to communicate, is very common; the writer
has seen many such cases, of which one is here illustrated in Fig. 26.

[Illustration: FIG. 26.]

This bridge, of the section shown, and 85 feet span, had very light web
structure. The bracings, of which there were two sets, were wholly
inefficient, the end rivets being loose in enlarged holes. Upon the
passage of a train there was a positive lurching of the girder tops from
side to side. The integrity of the bridge was really dependent upon
such stiffness as there was in the girders, and unplated floor.

A common but indifferent method of keeping the top members of main
girders in line is by the use of overhead girders alone, frequently
curved to give the requisite clearance over the road. This cannot be
considered as wholly inefficient, as sometimes maintained, since it is
evident that the closed frame formed by the floor beams, the web members
of the main girders, and the overhead girder itself, must take a greater
force to distort it than would be necessary to cause deformation of a
corresponding degree, in an open frame formed by the omission of the
overhead girder; but it is not a method to be recommended, its precise
utility is difficult to estimate, and, if the cross-girder attachments
are of a rigid character, tends to increase the stresses induced at
those connections. The latter consideration is, however, not applicable
to this arrangement alone. All overhead bracing favours this by
restraining the tendency of the top booms to cant inwards when the floor
beams are loaded; and though this restraint may be quite harmless, it is
desirable that close attention be given to these effects in designing
bridges which make a complete frame more or less rigid in its character.
“Sway” bracing, sometimes introduced at right angles to the bridge
between opposite verticals, tends to emphasise these effects by
rendering the cross-section of the bridge still stiffer, besides making
it a matter of difficulty to ascertain how much of the wind forces on
the top boom is carried to the abutment by the top system of bracing,
and how much by the floor. The author does not, however, mean to suggest
that it cannot be used with propriety, but rather that extreme care is
desirable in considering its ultimate effect on the rest of the

For girders of moderate depth there may be on these grounds a distinct
advantage in abandoning overhead bracing, and securing rigidity of the
top boom, and adequate resistance to wind forces, by making the
connection between the cross-girders and the web members sufficiently
good to insure, as a whole, a stiff [U]-shaped frame; but this, with the
ordinary type of rocker arrangement under the main girder bearings, will
not be entirely free from objection, as canting of the girders due to
floor loading will throw extreme pressure on the inner end of each
rocker. There appears to be no reason why the cylindrical knuckle should
not in this case be supplanted by a cup hinge, allowing angular movement
of the girder bearing in any plane.

[Illustration: FIG. 27.]

The efficient stiffening of light girders, as in the case of
foot-bridges, from the floor, where this is at the bottom flanges,
renders very narrow top booms permissible. This is a decided advantage
where lightness of appearance is aimed at; but it is not unusual to see
an attempt made in this direction by introducing gusset plates of very
ample proportions between vertical members of the girders, and the
projecting ends of flimsy transoms, carried beyond the width of the
bridge proper, these being of a section wholly out of proportion to the
brackets they are supposed to secure. Whatever may be the amount of
strength necessary at the point A, in Fig. 27, there should not be less
throughout the transom from one girder to the other. The degree of
strength and stiffness required in this member, and in the vertical
stiffeners is not, as a rule, great. Information to enable this question
to be dealt with as a matter of calculation is somewhat scanty; but it
would appear to be sufficient to insure safety that, for an assumed
small amount of curvature in the compression member, the forces outwards
corresponding to this curvature, due to thrust, should be resisted by
verticals and transoms of strength and stiffness sufficient to restrain
it from any further flexure. It will, of course, be necessary also to
take care that the compression member is good as a strut between the
points of restraint. A simple and sufficiently precise method of dealing
with this question is much needed. In cases where the floor weight rests
on the flange projection, it is also necessary to give the transom
additional strength to an extent enabling it to resist the twisting
effort between any two of these transverse members; further, resistance
to wind on the girder has to be provided in both transoms and verticals.

It may be hardly necessary to insist that bracing intended to stiffen a
structure against wind, local crippling, or vibration, should be made
complete, not stopping short at some point, because it cannot
conveniently be carried further, as is sometimes done, unless the
strength of those parts of the structure through which the forces from
the bracing must be communicated to the abutments is sufficiently great,
considered with reference to other stresses in those parts which have
also to be endured.

Bracing stopped short in this way, making only the central part of a
bridge rigid, may have the effect of increasing the forces to which the
unstiffened end members would otherwise be liable. Such a structure
would evidently be much stiffer against wind-gusts than if no bracing
existed--the resistance to a blow would be increased; but the power to
maintain that greater resistance being confined to the intermediate
bays, the unbraced ends would be subject to greater maximum forces than
if bracing were wholly omitted. The net effect may still be better than
with no bracing, the point raised being simply that of an increase of
stress in particular end members.

In the bracing of tall piers, the rising members of which will be
subject to any considerable stress, if the diagonal members are not
finally secured when the piers are under their full load, or an initial
stress of proper amount induced in those members, the effect of loading
will be to render them slack; so that an appreciable amount of movement
at the top may occur before it can be limited by the efficient action of
the bracings. This effect under blasts of wind or continual passage of
trains may, indeed, be dangerous. Similar considerations apply to the
top wind bracing of deep girder bridges, influencing also the bottom
bracing in a contrary manner, which calls for attention in fixing the
unit stresses for such members.

The bracing of sea-piers is very liable to slacken if made with
pin-and-eye ends, as is often done for round rods. The detail presents
advantages in erection, but is not altogether satisfactory in practice.
Such connections are continually working. In the finest weather, with
the sea quite smooth but for an almost imperceptible wave movement, the
lower parts of such structures will be found, as a rule, to have some
slight motion. This is very trying to bracing; nor is there room for
surprise when it is considered that these oscillations, occurring at
about ten to each minute, never wholly cease, and amount in the course
of one year to over five million in number.

Bracing attached in such a manner that there can be no initial slack, or
slack due to wear under endless repetitions of small amounts of stress,
will have a much better chance to keep tight. The advantage presented
by round rods in offering little surface to the water, is more than
negatived by inefficiency of the usual attachments for such rods.

The author has observed that bracing of members possessing some
stiffness, and with good end attachments to ample surfaces, appears to
stand best in ordinary sea-pier work. For such structures the bracing
should consist of a few good members, with a solid form of attachment,
rather than of a multiplicity of lighter adjustable members, which will
commonly give great trouble in maintenance; being very possibly also, in
the case of sea-pier work, in unskilled hands. If round rods must be
used, they will stand much better if made of large diameter.

Before leaving the subject of bracing, it may not be out of place to
refer to wind pressure, as this may so much affect the proportioning of
the members.

Some years since the author had occasion to examine a number of
structures with respect to their stability. Of foot-bridges from 60 feet
to 120 feet long, three or four, when calculated on the basis
recommended by the Board of Trade as to pressures upon open-work
structures, worked out at an overturning pressure of from 18 lb. to 22
lb. per square foot. These bridges had been many years in existence; it
is, therefore, fair to assume that no such wind in the direction
required for overturning had expended its force upon them as to the
whole surface.

[Illustration: FIG. 28.]

Particulars were taken in 1895 of a notice-board, presenting about 12
square feet of surface, which was blown down in the great storm of March
24 of that year, at Bilston, in Staffordshire. It was situated at the
foot of a slight slope, over which the wind came, striking the
obstruction at right angles. The board was mounted on two oak posts of
fair quality and condition, which broke near the ground at bolt holes
(see Fig. 28). The force required to do this, at 9000 lb. modulus of
rupture--a moderate value--corresponds to 50 lb. per square foot on the
surface exposed above the break.

In the same neighbourhood, at the same time, considerable damage was
wrought in overturning chimney stacks, to buildings and roofs; the
general impression in the locality being that the storm was of
exceptional, even unprecedented, violence. Bilston, it should be noted,
lies high.

At Bidston Hill, near Birkenhead, on the same occasion, a pressure of 27
lb. was registered. In another part of the country it is said to have
been 37 lb. Wind is so capricious in its effects over small areas as to
render it probable that the maximum pressures have never been recorded;
but this is a matter of little importance where general stability and
strength only are concerned. The instances cited, though by themselves
insufficient to throw much light on the question, may be of use in
connection with other known examples.



Considerable latitude is observable in the practice of engineers in the
use of rivets. Numberless experiments to determine the resistance of
riveted connections have from time to time been made, but these are not
to be considered by themselves as final, when the results of experience
in actual construction, are available for further enlightenment.

The class of workmanship so largely influences the degree in which
rivets will maintain their integrity that it is only by the observation
of a large number of cases, including all degrees of workmanship, that
any reliable conclusions may be drawn. In this respect laboratory
experiments have an apparent advantage, as the conditions may be kept
sensibly the same; but, on the other hand, no such investigation
reproduces the circumstances of actual use, which alone must in the end
determine the utility of any inquiry for practical application.

The author has studied the particulars of a number of cases to ascertain
under what conditions as to stress, having due regard to the effects of
vibration, rivets will remain tight, or become loose. Every loose rivet
that may be found cannot, of course, be taken as being due to excessive
stress; the more frequent cause is indifferent work, evidenced by the
fact that neighbouring rivets will frequently be found quite sound,
though the failure of some will cause a greater stress upon the
remainder. When rivets loosen as the direct result of over-stress, it is
usually by compression of the shank and enlargement of the hole, or by
stretching of the rivet and reduction of its diameter. Instances of
failure by partial or complete shear are extremely rare; indeed, the
author has never yet found one, though when a rivet has first worked
loose, as a result of excessive bearing pressure or bad work, it is not
uncommon to find it cut or bent as an after consequence.

In estimating stresses at which rivets have remained tight, or loosened,
as the case may be, examples have generally been chosen in which there
could be no reasonable doubt as to the amount of those stresses by the
ordinary methods of computation. This is clearly most important, as, if
any appreciable uncertainty remained as to the degree of stress, the
results deduced would be of little value. For this reason those
instances in which the loads upon girders, or parts of girders, may find
their way to the supports by more than one route, are to be regarded
with caution, as are those in which full loading possibly never obtains,
but which may, on the other hand, perhaps have been frequent. The
working diameter of the rivet as it fills the hole has been used in
making the computations; in some cases from direct measurement from
particular rivets, in others with a suitable allowance for excess
diameter of hole, according to the class of work under consideration.

Dealing first with main girders, it may be said that rivets attaching
the webs of plate girders to the flange angles rarely loosen, though
subject to considerable stress. In illustration of this may be named a
bridge for two lines of way, 85 feet effective span, having two main
girders with plate webs, and cross-girders resting on the top flanges,
previously referred to (see Fig. 26).

The girders, which were 6 feet 9 inches deep, had a bearing upon the
abutments of 4 feet; the rivets were 7/8 inch in diameter and 4 inches
pitch. There is in a case of this kind some little uncertainty as to
what is the stress on the flange angle rivets at, or very near to, the
bearings; but, taking the vertical rows of rivets at the web joints near
the ends as presenting less uncertainty, the stress per rivet works out
at 4·8 tons, being 4 tons per square inch on each shear surface, and 11
tons per square inch bearing pressure upon the shank in the web plate,
which was barely 1/2 inch thick. This bridge was frequently loaded upon
both roads, but with one road only carrying live load, the stresses in
the more heavily loaded girder would be fully 90 per cent. of those
obtaining as a maximum. There was on this bridge, which had been in use
31 years, considerable movement and vibration.

It is by no means uncommon to find cases of rivets in main girders
taking 11 tons per square inch bearing pressure--occasionally more--and
remaining tight. As furnishing an instructive, though slightly
ambiguous, instance of rivets in single shear, may be cited a bridge not
greatly less than that just referred to, of about 65 feet span, carrying
two lines of way, there being two outer and one centre main girder of
multiple lattice type, with cross-girders in one length 4 feet apart,
riveted to the bottom booms of the main girders; these rivets, by the
way, were in tension. The floor was plated, the road consisting of stout
timber longitudinals, chairs, and rails (Fig. 29).

[Illustration: FIG. 29.]

It should be noted that there is in this case some difficulty in
ascertaining the precise behaviour of the cross-girders, affecting the
proportion of load carried by the outer and the inner main girders.
Strict continuity of all the cross-girders could only obtain if the
deflection of the main girders were such as to keep the three points of
suspension of each cross-girder in the same straight line. A close
inquiry showed that this was very far from being the case, and that
while each cross-girder at the centre of the bridge would, under load,
by relative depression of the middle point of support, be reduced to
the condition of two simple beams, those at the extreme ends of the span
would behave as continuous girders.

With both roads carrying engine loads equal to those coming upon the
bridge, the author estimates that for the centre main girder the shear
on the rivets of the end diagonals, secured by one rivet only, was 14·9
tons per square inch, and the bearing pressure 16·3 tons; the flange
stress being 7·1 tons per square inch net. The outer main girders are
most heavily stressed when but one road, next to the outer girder
considered, carries live load. For this condition the stresses work out
at 9 tons per square inch shear on the rivets of the end diagonals, and
9 tons bearing pressure, the flange stress being 5·7 tons per square
inch on the net section.

Without intending to throw any doubt upon the substantial truth of these
results, it must be admitted that instances of greater simplicity of
stress determination are much to be preferred. For purposes of
comparison, but not as having any other value, the results have also
been worked out on the supposition of all cross-girders acting each as
two simple beams, and also for strict continuity, and are here
tabulated, together with the conclusions given above.

The cross-girders were moderately stressed, and the tension on the
rivets attaching them to the main girders probably did not exceed 3 tons
per square inch.

It should be pointed out that the traffic over the bridge was small. The
centre main girder but seldom bore its full load, though at all times
liable to receive it. Much importance cannot, therefore, be attached to
the results for this girder, other than as showing how a structure may
stand for many years, though liable at any time to the development of
stresses which would commonly be regarded as destructive, or nearly so.


                                   |   Cross-  |   Cross-   |
                                   |  Girders  | Girders as | Correct
                                   | as Simple | Continuous | Results.
                  --               |   Beams.  |   Beams.   |
                                   | Stress in Tons per Square Inch.
  Centre girder, 63 ft. span (both |           |            |
  roads loaded):                   |           |            |
    Rivets in diagonals--Shear     |    13·7   |    17·2    |  14·9
          Do.            Bearing   |           |            |
                         pressure  |    15·0   |    18·8    |  16·3
                         Flange    |           |            |
                         stress    |     6·8   |     8·5    |   7·1
                                   |           |            |
  Outer girder, 66 ft. span (near  |           |            |
  road loaded):                    |           |            |
    Rivets in diagonals--Shear     |     9·6   |     8·2    |   9·0
          Do.            Bearing   |           |            |
                         pressure  |     9·6   |     8·2    |   9·0
                         Flange    |           |            |
                         stress    |     5·9   |     5·1    |   5·7

The material and workmanship of the bridge were good. The rivets of the
centre girder end diagonals, 1 inch in diameter, were originally 7/8
inch, but on becoming loose were cut out, the holes reamered, and
replaced by the larger size, which remained tight, and to which the
stress figures apply. The rivets in the diagonals near the centre, 7/8
inch in diameter, which were subject to reversal of stress, occasionally
worked loose, and were more than once replaced. The riveting in the
outer girder diagonals, subject to smaller stresses, much more
frequently developed, also gave trouble, particularly those liable to
counter stresses.

Apart from looseness of rivets, the general appearance and behaviour of
the bridge, which had been in existence about twenty years, was not
suggestive of any weakness.

Of smaller girders, an example showing the necessity for care in
discriminating, if it be possible, between looseness of rivets resulting
from over-stress and that due to other influences may first be quoted.
Two trough girders, of 11 feet effective span, each of the section shown
in Fig. 30, 11-1/2 inches deep at the ends, 14 inches at the middle,
with 1/4-inch webs, and rivets 3/4 inch in diameter, of 4-1/2-inch
pitch, showed certain defects, of which one, it may be incidentally
mentioned, was a cracked web (Fig. 31). From the nature of the
arrangement the lower web rivets, which were loose, would receive the
first shock of the load coming upon the span, but there were evidences
indicative of original bad work. The angle bars gaped, suggesting that
these had first been riveted to the bottom plate, and left sufficiently
wide to allow the web to be afterwards inserted, the rivets failing to
pull the work close, and then readily working loose. Here there is
considerable uncertainty as to how much of the loosening is to be
attributed to bad work, and how much to stress. It may, however, be
remarked that whatever bearing stress was the ultimate result of the
load hammering on the lower angle flanges, loosening rivets never
perhaps really tight, the stress of 7 tons per square inch bearing
pressure on the upper rivets, though aggravated by considerable
impactive force, was not sufficient to loosen these. The girders were
taken out after being in place sixteen years.

[Illustration: FIG. 32.]

[Illustration: FIG. 30.]

[Illustration: FIG. 31.]

An instance of undoubted excessive bearing pressure was found in the
cross-girders of a bridge, mentioned on p. 15, of which so many web
plates were cracked. This bridge, carrying two lines of way, had outer
main girders, and long cross-girders with 1/4-inch webs and 3/4-inch
rivets, 4 inches pitch. The rivet stresses work out at 4·3 tons per
square inch on each shear surface, and 24 tons per square inch bearing
pressure. For one road only being loaded, the latter figure falls to
18·5 tons. The traffic over this bridge, twenty years old, was
considerable, rapid, and heavy. It is hardly necessary to add that a
large number of the rivets were loose, one of which is shown in Fig. 32.

[Illustration: FIG. 33.]

To take another case relating to a floor system of extremely bad design
(Fig. 33). The main girders were 11 feet apart, 35 feet span, the floor
having two cross-girders only, spaced at 11 feet 3 inches, and 9 inches
deep, supporting hog-backed trough longitudinals. The cross-girders were
at their ends but 6-3/4 inches deep, the distance from the bearing of
cross-girders to centre of longitudinals carrying a rail being 2 feet 10
inches, in which length were eight rivets in the web and angles at the
top, and six at the bottom, all 3/4 inch in diameter.

The shear stress on the upper rivets works out at 7·3 tons per square
inch on each shear surface, the bearing pressure 20·6 tons per square
inch. On the lower rivets the shear stress becomes 9·7 tons, and the
bearing pressure 27·4 tons, per square inch. Care was exercised in
computing these stresses, that part of the bending moment carried by the
web being allowed for, but it must be admitted that the result is,
probably, approximate only. The sketch here given shows the cross-girder
end and section. The rivets, though in double shear, were, as might be
expected, loose, notwithstanding that the traffic over the bridge was
moderate, and quite slow. The floor system was remodelled after twelve
years’ use.

In illustration of the behaviour of rivets in the ends of long
cross-girders, both shallow and weak, and many years in use under heavy
traffic, may be cited connections having end angle bars to the
cross-girders, with six rivets through the web of main girders. The
bearing pressure worked out at 7·8 tons per square inch. Many rivets
were loose, but it should be remarked that the workmanship was not of
the best class, and the cross girders flexible: a characteristic very
trying to end rivets, and inducing a stretch in some, already referred
to as a possible cause of loosening. This will be apparent if the
probable end slope of weak girders be considered. The author concludes
that this inclination should not, for ordinary cases, exceed 1 in 250;
but the ratio must largely depend upon the degree of rigidity of the
part to which the connection is made. It is commonly regarded as bad
practice to submit rivets to tension, yet this is frequently, though
unintentionally, permitted in end attachments, without any attempt to
limit the amount of tension. With suitable restrictions, there appears
no serious objection to rivet tension for many situations.

Another instance of cross-girder end connections of a different type is
illustrated in Fig. 34.

The main girders of the bridge were 12 feet apart, each cross-girder end
carrying its share of the half of one road. The mean bearing pressure
upon the rivet shanks works out at 5·8 tons per square inch for the six
rivets of the original joint, but in the particular joint shown some of
the rivets had loosened, making the bearing pressure upon the remainder
about 8·7 tons per square inch. It is apparent there must have been
considerable stress on the top and bottom rivets which loosened. These
two rivets would also, because of difficult access, be in all likelihood
insufficiently hammered up. The joints worked rather badly; the loose
rivets had “cut” to a considerable extent, a process materially assisted
by the gritty nature of the ballast (limestone), particles of which,
getting into the joint, contributed to the sawing action; this had
clearly been taking effect for some considerable time. (See Fig. 35.)

[Illustration: FIG. 34.]

[Illustration: FIG. 35.]

The two cases of cross-girder ends given are both rather exceptional in
character, and in each case the defects appear to be due to general bad
design and workmanship rather than to any serious excess of bearing
pressure. This may be illustrated by taking the common case of
cross-girders, 2 feet deep, carrying two roads, and having end angle
irons riveted to the web and stiffeners of the main girders by ten
rivets in single shear at each end. In this example, which is, for old
work, simply typical, and does not relate to any specific instance, the
bearing pressure on the rivets will work out at from 6 to 8 tons per
square inch, and will seldom be accompanied by looseness of rivets, and
then only as a result of faulty work.

Some sketches of rivets taken from old bridges have already been given
in connection with the cases to which they belong; a few others are here
shown (Figs. 36 to 40) to further illustrate what may be the actual
condition of rivets after some years’ use, and how different from the
ideal rivet upon which calculations are based. These are, however, bad

[Illustration: FIG. 36.]

[Illustration: FIG. 37.]

[Illustration: FIG. 38.]

[Illustration: FIG. 39.]

[Illustration: FIG. 40.]

It should be noticed that rivets may, if in double shear, be loose in
the middle thickness, due to enlargement of the hole in the central part
and compression of the rivet, and yet show no sign of this by testing
with the hammer. There is, however, generally marked evidence of another
kind in the “working” of the inner part, as, for instance, the web of a
plate girder, in which case a discoloration due to rust is to be found
along the edges of the angle bars, or a movement may be detected on the
passage of live load. Red rust is, in fact, frequently an indication of
something wrong, when no other evidence is apparent. In plate girders
having [T] or [L] bars brought down and cranked on to the top of shallow
cross-girders, it is not uncommon to find the rivets attaching these
bars to the cross-girder tops loose, due to causes already dealt with.
The riveted connection should, as to strength, bear some relation to the
strength and stiffness of the parts secured, if the rivets are to remain

It may be well to give here a summarised statement of the results
already named, for purposes of ready reference. These by themselves are
not sufficient to enable working stresses to be deduced, though they are
instructive. The author has found many instances of shear and bearing
stresses in excess of those usually sanctioned, under which the rivets
behaved well, but is not now able to give precise particulars of these.


     --    |Span |  Where  |Shear |Single|Bearing | Tight or Loose.
           | in  |  Found. |Stress|  or  |Pressure|
           |Feet.|         |  in  |Double|in Tons |
           |     |         | Tons |Shear.|  per   |
           |     |         |  per |      | Square |
           |     |         |Square|      | Inch.  |
           |     |         |Inch. |      |        |
  Main    {|  85 |   Web   |  4·0 |   D  |  11·0  | Tight.
  girders {|  66 |Diagonals|  9·0 |   S  |   9·0  | Many loose.
          {|  63 |    „    | 14·9 |   S  |  16·3  | Tight generally.
           |     |         |      |      |        |
          {|  11 |   Web   |  1·4 |   D  |   7·0  | Tight.
  Small   {|  26 |    „    |  4·3 |   D  |  24·0  | Many loose.
  girders {|  11 |    „    |  7·3 |   D  |  20·6  | Loose.
          {|  11 |    „    |  9·7 |   D  |  27·4  | Loose.
           |     |         |      |      |        |
  End     {|  27 |   Ends  |  5·4 |   S  |   7·8  | Loose.
  connec- {|  12 |    „    |  1·8 |   D  |  {5·8  |}Many loose.
  tions   {|     |         |      |      |  {8·7  |}
           |     |         |      |      |        |
  (Type    |     |         |      |      |        |
  case)    |  26 |    „    |  4·8 |   S  |   7·0  | Tight.

It is probable that the fact of a rivet being in single or in double
shear largely affects its ability to resist the effects of bearing
pressure, as commonly estimated. In the first case, the rivet-shank must
bear heavily on the half-thickness of the plates or bars through which
it passes, rather than on the whole thickness; and it is to be supposed
that under this condition it will work loose at a lower average stress
than if it were in double shear, and the pressure better distributed.

[Illustration: FIG. 41.]

[Illustration: FIG. 42.]

The author has no very definite information in support of this
contention, but suggests that for double shear the permissible bearing
pressure may probably be as much as 50 per cent. greater than for rivets
in single shear; the difference being made rather in the direction of
increasing the allowable load on double-shear rivets, than in reducing
that upon rivets in single shear. The propriety of this is evident when
it is considered that the practice has commonly been to make no
distinction, so that whatever bearing pressures are found to be
sufficient for both cases may be increased for those capable of taking
the greater amount. Figs. 41 and 42, here given, illustrate the
behaviour of rivets under the two conditions.

With reference to the amounts of the stresses to which rivets may be
subject, the author concludes, as a result of his experience, coupled
with a consideration of known laboratory tests, that for all dead load
these may be quite prudently higher than is frequently taken. For iron
the shear stress to be 10 per cent. less than the stress of parts
joined; and the bearing pressure--for single-shear rivets, 20 per cent.;
and for double-shear rivets, 80 per cent. greater. For ordinary mild
steel the shear stress to be 20 per cent. less than the stress in parts
connected, and the bearing pressure equal to it for single-shear rivets;
and 50 per cent. more for rivets in double shear, though the two latter
values may probably approach those for wrought iron in steel of the
higher grades sometimes used in bridge-work. For live load, or part live
and part dead load, the same rules may apply, the reduction of the
nominal working stress, arrived at by any one of the methods in use
which may be adopted, affecting both the parts connected, and the rivets
connecting them. For reverse stresses it is advisable to keep the shear
stress in any rivet so low, say 3 tons per square inch, that the
frictional resistance of the parts gripped by the rivets shall be
sufficient to prevent any tendency to slip under the influence of the
smaller of the two forces to which the part is liable, to insure that,
if brought to a bearing in one direction by the greater force, it shall
not go back with reversal of stress. This requirement may be open to
some question with respect to good machine-riveted work, but for
hand-riveted connections it may certainly be adopted with wisdom.

The following table will show at a glance how the stresses proposed vary
with the unit stresses governing the main sections.


  Unit Stress|             |Bearing Pressure|Bearing Pressure
      in     |Shear Stress.|for Single-Shear|for Double-Shear
    Member.  |             |     Rivets.    |    Rivets.
              _Wrought Iron.--Tons per Square Inch._
       3·0   |     2·7     |       3·6      |       5·4
       4·0   |     3·6     |       4·8      |       7·2
       5·0   |     4·5     |       6·0      |       9·0
       6·0   |     5·4     |       7·2      |      10·8
       7·0   |     6·3     |       8·4      |      12·6
                 _Steel.--Tons per Square Inch._
       4·0   |     3·2     |       4·0      |       6·0
       5·0   |     4·0     |       5·0      |       7·5
       6·0   |     4·8     |       6·0      |       9·0
       7·0   |     5·6     |       7·0      |      10·5
       8·0   |     6·4     |       8·0      |      12·0
       9·0   |     7·2     |       9·0      |      13·5

  NOTE.--Tension on rivets to be limited to one-half the permissible
  shear stress, the holes being slightly countersunk under snap-head.

It may be objected that the shear stresses in the proposed table are
somewhat high for wrought iron and steel. This feature is intentional,
and is supported by the consideration that whereas there may be loss of
strength in the members of a structure by waste, there is no such loss
in rivets, if the work is so designed that there shall be no loosening.
Any allowance that may be desirable for loose or defective field rivets
is left to be dealt with as may be considered advisable for each
particular case, the table as it stands being applicable only to
riveting not below the standard of first-rate hand work.

Cases of loose rivets in main girders over 50 feet span, due to any
cause but bad work, are extremely rare, unless resulting from the action
of some other part of the structure. It may be stated broadly that for
railway bridges of less than perfect design, the nearer the rail, the
more loose rivets, generally at connections. This is, no doubt, largely
due to the severe impact of the load, the effects of which are greater
near the rail, both because of the small proportion of dead load, and
because this effect has been but little modified by the elasticity of
any considerable length of intervening girder-work. In addition to this,
it is quite usual to find the rivets more heavily stressed, even though
the load be considered as “static,” in the floor system than in the
main-girders, though the reverse should be the case. It is unfortunate
that those parts which require the best riveting--viz., the
connections--are commonly dealt with by hand; and for this reason it is
the more necessary to design these with the greatest care.

Any arrangement which favours the gradual acceptance of stress by one
part from another will contribute to the integrity of riveted
connections, and lessen the liability of the material to develop faults.
In other branches of design this is well recognised, but appears in much
old bridge work to have been entirely overlooked.

Bridges carrying public roads very seldom furnish examples of loose
rivets; the conditions are generally much more favourable, impact being
practically absent, full loading infrequent, and the proportion of dead
load to live, high.

It is, perhaps, hardly necessary to insist upon rivets being, apart from
mere considerations of strength, sufficiently near together to insure
close work and exclude moisture. Outside edge seams should never be more
widely spaced than 16 times the thickness of the plates; 12 thicknesses
apart is better. In the case of angle, tee, and channel sections, the
greater stiffness of the section makes wider spacing allowable up to,
say, 20 times the thickness; but this must be governed largely by the
amount of riveting required to pull the parts close together. Where more
than four thicknesses are to be gripped by the rivets, 3/4 inch in
diameter is hardly sufficient to insure tight work, and quite unsuitable
if the plates exceed 5/8 inch thick.



High stress, provided it be well below that at which immediate injury
results, or possible failure, is not uniformly objectionable. It may be
first considered relative to the absolute and elastic limits of
strength, next with respect to the range of stress, and, finally, with
regard to the frequency of application. For practical purposes--that is,
for the continued efficiency of a structure--the limit of elasticity
must be considered to be the limit of strength, or, more strictly, the
limit for all those parts of the structure which must, so long as it
lasts, be liable to the original measure of stress. There may be places
in a bridge, however, over-stressed only in the earlier period of its
existence, which, by being over-stressed and suffering deformation,
permit the origin of this distortion to be harmlessly met in some other
way. In such a case the injury done to that part does not, of necessity,
lead to any culminating disaster; indeed, were it not for this
plasticity it is probable a large number of bridges would fail after
being in use but a short time. As for riveting, so in dealing with the
amount of stress to which a member is supposed to be liable, it should
be clearly understood by what method this has been arrived at, whether
the value assigned is the actual measure of the stress, or simply the
conventional amount arrived at in the conventional way; perhaps
neglecting web section in plate girders, or without regard to the
various influences which may reduce or increase the nominal amount of
stress, or including only a partial recognition of those influences. In
any case quoted the stress named is that at which the author arrives by
the ordinary methods of computation carefully applied, where these
appear to be sufficiently precise, unless any qualifying remark be
added. Extreme flange stress is in special cases computed, first on the
gross section by estimating the moment of inertia on that basis, and
deducing the stress at the holes from the ratio of net to gross section
at the extreme fibres; a method more correct than by reference to the
moment of inertia of the net section. Any exhaustive refinement in the
study of stresses is not attempted, both because it is beyond the
author’s powers of analysis, and for the reason that such results are
not comparable with the results of ordinary methods of calculation in
practice. Effective spans are taken at moderate values, and all
exaggeration is avoided.

The effects of impact in any part vary so much with nearness to, or
remoteness from, the living load, and the frequency of development of
the maximum stress from all causes acting together is so much affected
by the same consideration, that it is apparent a nominal stress which
may be harmless in one part of a bridge may be destructive in some
other, a statement borne out by observation. Stress, as ordinarily
stated--i.e., at so much per square inch, uniform across a section--is
seldom a cause of trouble. In nearly all cases of failure there is an
accompanying localised destructive stress, either in rivets or
elsewhere, with crippling or deformation of some essential part. In the
tension flanges of main girders with uncomplicated stress, this may run
up to an amount very considerably beyond the ordinary limits without
producing signs of distress. The same remark applies to the compression
flanges, if these be in themselves sufficiently stiff, or properly
restrained from side flexure. In support of the above statement may be
quoted the following instances relating to wrought-iron structures:--

A bridge of 60 feet effective span, having girders immediately under the
rails, had a flange stress of 6·3 tons per square inch. Another of 64
feet span, carrying two lines of way, with outside main girders and
cross-girders, had the flanges of the former stressed to 6·8 tons per
square inch. A third, of 76 feet span, of similar construction to the
last, was stressed in the main girder flanges to 7·5 tons per square
inch. The webs were not included in the computation; the figures,
therefore, compare with ordinary practice. In these three cases the main
girders showed no signs of distress, referable to the results stated,
though the top flanges in the last case were curved inwards. The effect
of this flexing of the flange would be, of course, to increase the
amount of compressive stress along one edge, though to what degree
cannot now be stated.

[Illustration: FIG. 43.]

[Illustration: FIG. 45.]

[Illustration: FIG. 44.]

A further instance of considerable flange stress occurred in a bridge of
seven nearly equal continuous spans, 25 feet generally, the end and
greatest span being 29 feet 6 inches, centre to centre of bearings. Some
details of the bridge are given in Figs. 43 to 45. The four inner main
girders under rails were 2 feet deep, with webs 1/2 inch thick over
piers, and 3/8 inch at abutments, having flanges of two [L] bars, 3
inches by 3 inches by 5/8 inch. There were also two outer girders of the
same depth, with single [L] bars. Plate diaphragms of full girder depth
and particularly stiff were carried right across the bridge at the
centre of the spans, and over the piers. The girders, though evidently
designed to be continuous, had very poor flange joints at each bearing,
of little more than one half the flange strength (see Fig. 45). It is
doubtful if the girders acted with strict continuity for long after
erection, as the excessive stress in the rivets of the flange joint
would, for that condition, have been nearly sufficient to shear them. It
is probable that this being so, the joints first yielded, relieving the
bending moment over the piers, and increasing it near mid-span. Whether
the end spans be considered as strictly continuous with the rest, or as
simple beams, the maximum bending moments would not greatly differ,
though occurring for continuity over the pier, for free beams at the
centre. There is, however, an intermediate condition which makes the
moments at these two places less than either maximum, but equal to each
other; a condition of semi-continuity agreeable to a partial efficiency
of the joints referred to. It is this state which has been calculated,
giving the minimum stress value that can be accepted. The diaphragm has
been assumed to transfer to the outer girders a due proportion of the
load. With this explanation it may now be stated that, under engine
loads corresponding to those running, the flange stress worked out at
7·4 tons per square inch tension, web included, or 9·7 tons per square
inch without considering the web; which stresses, it is more than
probable, may have been greater. The figures include the consideration
of anything which may contribute to lowering the stress, and are hardly
to be compared with those worked to in ordinary design of new work, in
which it would be quite usual to neglect the assistance of the outer
girders and the webs, to work to heaviest engine-loads, and possibly
include an allowance for the effects of settlement. Dealt with in this
way the girders would seem to be of about one-fourth the strength that
would be required in the design of a new bridge, in which certain
elements of strength would be deliberately ignored.

The ironwork was in good condition, there was no ordinary evidence of
weakness apart from the calculated results, the vibration was distinctly
moderate, and the deflection, though not recorded, was certainly small.
The bridge did, indeed, seem somewhat inert under load, and favours a
suspicion, the author entertains, that old girderwork long overstressed
may have a sensibly higher modulus of elasticity than newer work at more
moderate stresses. The traffic was not very considerable, and both
roads, of the same spans, but seldom loaded at the same time; though
with this construction of bridge there would in either case be very
little difference. The author recalls no reason for supposing that the
piers had yielded in any sensible degree. The bridge was rebuilt after
some thirty-six years’ use.

Stress of considerable amount in the flanges of a latticed main girder
of 63 feet span has already been noticed in the chapter on “Riveted
Connections,” which for the tension boom worked out to 7·1 tons per
square inch, the flanges in this case showing no signs of weakness. An
instance has also been given in dealing with a case of side flexure in
which the extreme fibre stress was calculated to be 10 tons per square
inch, the girder recovering its form when relieved of load.

As to stress in cross-girder flanges, an example may be quoted of a
bridge of 109 feet span, carrying two roads, having outside main
girders, with cross-girders between; these latter were stressed in the
flanges to 6·7 tons per square inch (webs not included), if the partial
distribution among the girders (which were spaced 6 feet apart) by the
rails and longitudinal timbers be neglected. There is some reason to
think in this instance that distribution had the effect of reducing the
stress quoted, as the observed deflection of the cross-girders was
materially less than that calculated for girders acting independently of
each other, though this may be in part due to a cause already hinted at.
Rigidity of the cross-girder ends, where attached to the heavy main
girders, would also tend to moderate the stress. No very definite
conclusion can therefore be deduced from this instance.

To take another case of less uncertainty, the bridge of 35 feet span
(see Fig. 33), referred to in “Riveted Connections,” may again be cited.
The extreme fibre stress in the cross-girder flanges worked out at 6·3
tons per square inch, web included, or 6·5 tons, exclusive of the web.
It cannot be said in this example that the girders showed no signs of
weakness, as the deflection under live load was 1/2 inch on the span of
11 feet, in addition to a permanent set of 3/4 inch, largely due,
however, to “working” rivets.

A better and altogether conclusive case of the way in which
cross-girders may occasionally suffer considerable stress, and show no
sign, is furnished by two cross-girders, of which some particulars are
here given. These girders occurred in the floor of a very acute angled
skew bridge, riveted at one end to the main girders in a manner which
was very far from fixing the ends, resting at the other end on a masonry
abutment. The first girder was about 19 feet effective span, 12 inches
deep in the web, with angle bar and plate flanges. The girders were
spaced 6 feet apart, and were connected under the rails by [T]-bars,
cranked down to face the webs, and riveted through. Though these [T]’s
had little stiffness, yet the frequent vertical movements of the girders
relative to each other, under passing loads, had broken the majority of
the [T]-bars at the bends, so that no notice need be taken of these as
transferring load from any one cross-girder to its neighbour. The floor
covering consisted of timbers about 4 inches thick, also incompetent to
transfer any sensible proportion of the load on a girder to others 6
feet distant. Upon the floor was cinder ballast, with sleepers, chairs,
and ordinary bull-headed rails. The stress to which the girder was
liable works out at 8·4 tons per square inch, on the extreme fibres of
the net section, web included; or 9·1 tons, neglecting the web, under
engine-loads of a common amount. The other girder had an effective span
of about 22 feet, as before 12 inches deep in the web, with angle bar
and plate flanges. The stress per square inch was 10·5 tons, web
included, or 11·1 tons per square inch, neglecting the web. This girder
carried three rails, one of which was near to the abutment bearing, so
that there was no great difference in the stress induced whether all
three rails were loaded or the pair only. The traffic over the bridge
was very great, but of moderate speed. It must have been a common
occurrence for the girders to take the full loads. The heavier engines
passed scores of times in a day--lighter engines probably one hundred
times. The bridge was about twenty years old, yet these cross-girders,
when removed, showed no other sign of age and wear than that due to

[Illustration: FIG. 46.]

All the foregoing instances relate to wrought-iron bridges. Two cases of
steel construction are here added, the first of these furnishing an
example of high girder stress somewhat remarkable. This was found in a
trough girder of a strange pattern, of which a section is here given
(Fig. 46). The bridge to which it belonged carried a siding, over which
engines of less than the heaviest class sometimes passed at a crawling
pace. The larger of the two girders carrying the rails was 15 feet 8
inches effective span. The sides of the trough consisted each of two
vertical plates, originally 1/2 inch thick, but wasted to an aggregate
thickness of 5/8 inch. These plates 6 inches deep, were connected at
their lower edges to angle bars, 3 inches by 3 inches by 1/2 inch, which
again were riveted to a bottom plate 16 inches wide, originally 1/2 inch
thick, wasted to 3/8 inch. Lying in the bottom of the trough, and
riveted through the inner angle flanges, was a bridge-rail. Assuming
that the metal retained its elastic properties from top to bottom of the
section, at whatever stress, this works out at 32 tons per square inch
at the extreme top fibre, and 15 tons at the bottom, on the net section.
As puddled steel, of which the girders were made, may have a tenacity of
45 to 55 tons per square inch, the assumption is probably correct. The
author has no record of the deflection, but it may be remarked it was
such that to stand under the girder, with a tank engine passing over,
required some determination.

A point of additional interest in this little bridge is that, though
made of steel, it dates as far back as 1861, having been in use
thirty-two years when removed. The particular variety of steel used was
known as Firth’s puddled. The evidence of this consists in
correspondence showing that permission had been asked of the controlling
authority, by the only users of the siding, to apply this material, with
no evidence of any refusal. At about the same time this steel was also
used upon the railway concerned in the top flanges of some girders of
considerable span. The appearance of the trough girders to which the
foregoing particulars apply was distinctly different to that which might
be expected in ordinary wrought iron. The top edges of the vertical
plates were wasted away, smooth, and rounded in a manner strongly
suggestive of a steely character. Finally, the way in which the girders
held up to their work for so long is, by itself, conclusive on the
point. The bridge-rail appeared to be of wrought iron, the different
modulus of elasticity of which has been included in the calculation upon
which the preceding results are based. That these girders stood so well
is, perhaps, largely due to the fact that the load carried by them was,
though varying within wide limits, practically free from impact, which,
had the load passed over quickly, would, with girders so small, shallow
and flexible, have been very sensible.

The second instance of steel construction in which somewhat high stress
is manifest is that of some steel troughing of the Lindsay pattern, used
in a bridge built in 1885. The troughs ran parallel to the rails, having
an effective span of 18 feet 8 inches. The depth of the section (which
is shown in Fig. 47), was 8-1/2 inches, making a ratio of depth to span
of 1/28. The road was of ballast, sleepers, chairs, and 85-lb. rails.

[Illustration: FIG. 47.]

Assuming this to be carried on six troughs, which corresponds to 11 feet
3 inches of width, the extreme fibre stress works out at 7·5 tons per
square inch, under usual engine-loads. The bridge when examined after
fourteen years’ use was in good condition, and at that time but little
rusted; but the end seam rivets were, as is not uncommon with such
troughing, loose. The traffic over the bridge was considerable, but not
at great speed.

On the opposite page are set out the results which have been given, in
tabulated form, as was done for rivet stresses, to enable ready
comparison to be made.


                |Span |  Part   |  Stress per   |Tension |Condition.
                | in  |Stressed.|  Square Inch. |   or   |
                |Feet.|         +-------+-------+Compres-|
       --       |     |         | Webs  | Webs  | sion.  |
                |     |         |  In-  |  not  |        |
                |     |         |cluded.|  In-  |        |
                |     |         |       |cluded.|        |
  Wrought-iron  |     |         |       |       |        |
  main girders, |60·0 |Flange   |   ..  |  6·3  |Tension | Good.
  plate         |     |         |       |       |        |
                |     |         |       |       |        |
  Wrought-iron  |     |         |       |       |        |
  main girders, |64·0 |   „     |   ..  |  6·8  |   „    | Good.
  plate         |     |         |       |       |        |
                |     |         |       |       |        |
  Wrought-iron  |     |         |       |       |        |
  main girders, |76·0 |   „     |   ..  |  7·5  |   „    | Fair.
  plate         |     |         |       |       |        |
                |     |         |       |       |        |
  Wrought-iron  |    {|   „     |  7·4  |  9·7  |   „    |}
  main girders, |29·5{|   „     |  6·3  |  8·3} |Compres-|}Good.
  plate         |    {|         |       |     } |sion    |}
                |     |         |       |       |        |
  Wrought-iron  |     |         |       |       |        |
  main girders, |63·0 |   „     |      7·1      |Tension | Fair.
  lattice       |     |         |       |       |        |
                |     |         |       |       |        |
  Wrought-iron  |     |         |       |       |        |
  main girders, |47·0 |Flange   | 10·0  |   ..  |Compres-| Fair.
  plate         |     |edge     |       |       |sion    |
                |     |         |       |       |        |
  Wrought-iron  |     |         |       |       |        |
  cross-girders,|26·0 |Flange   |   ..  |  6·7  |Tension | Fair.
  plate         |     |         |       |       |        |
                |     |         |       |       |        |
  Wrought-iron  |     |         |       |       |        |
  cross-girders,|11.0 |   „     |  6·3  |  6·5  |   „    | Bad; loose
  plate         |     |         |       |       |        | rivets.
                |     |         |       |       |        |
  Wrought-iron  |     |         |       |       |        |
  cross-girders,|19·0 |   „     |  8·4  |  9·1  |   „    | Good, but
  plate         |     |         |       |       |        | rusted.
                |     |         |       |       |        |
  Wrought-iron  |     |         |       |       |        |
  cross-girders,|22·0 |   „     | 10·5  | 11·1  |   „    | Good, but
  plate         |     |         |       |       |        | rusted.
                |     |         |       |       |        |
  Steel trough  |    {|   „     |     15·0      |   „    |}Fair,
  girder        |15.7{|Top edge |     32·0      |Compres-|}but
                |    {|         |       |       |sion    |}rusted.
                |     |         |       |       |        |
  Steel         |18·7 |Flanges  |  7·5  |   ..  |Tension | Fair,
  troughing     |     |         |       |       |and Com-| but
                |     |         |       |       |pression| rusted.

It would be unwise to infer from the instances which have been quoted
that high stress may be regarded with complaisance. In the most
conscientious engineering work there should still be a liberal margin
for material possibly defective, or even bad, for waste and
deterioration, and for the aggregate effect of minor errors in design,
any one of which considerations, except the first, by itself might not
be of great importance. The conclusion which may, however, be derived
from this and the previous chapters is, that bridge failures are less
likely to occur from high stress of a kind readily calculated than from
failure in detail, obscure and little suspected, the reason for which is
not perhaps apparent, till the attention is forcibly directed to it by
the refusal of the structure to sustain the forces to which it may be



Instructive lessons are to be had from a study of the various
alterations in form to which metallic bridgework is liable, which
alterations may be due simply to the development of stress of ordinary
amount, and are then generally small; or to abnormal stresses, the
result of some distortion in the bridge structure itself not originally
intended, and possibly extreme. In addition to these there may be
deformations due to settlement, to “creeping” of parts of the structure
relative to the rest, to temperature changes, to rust, and to original
bad workmanship. In any instance quoted below the methods adopted to
ascertain the amounts of such alterations were quite simple, even crude;
but as care was exercised, and no attempt made to measure any very
minute changes, the results may be accepted as practically correct.

Dismissing for the present changes of form such as are to be expected,
and touched upon in other places in this work, with respect to the
particular parts of bridge structures affected by them, a few instances
will be adduced of alterations which, though not very surprising, are
such as in the design of the work are hardly likely, in most instances,
to have been contemplated.

A case has already been referred to in which, owing to eccentric loading
of main girders, these were, as to the top flanges, flexed sideways a
considerable amount. It is proposed to supplement this by further
remarks relative to somewhat similar cases. A like effect is frequently
to be observed in trough or twin girders, in which the rails are
supported upon longitudinal timbers resting upon projecting ledges
formed by the bottom angle-bars of such troughs. In old forms of this
arrangement it is common to find the two girders forming the trough
connected only by bolts passing through the timbers, or just above them
and below the rails; or connected by narrow strips, which serve no other
purpose than to prevent the sides spreading at the bottom. The top
flanges in such cases commonly curve inwards on the passage of the
running load, accompanied of necessity by an increase of compressive
stress upon the outer edges of the flanges, and perhaps by the working
of any flange-joint which may exist. This, both as to flexing of the top
flange and the working of a joint, was noticed in the case of a bridge
twenty-three years old, very similar to that illustrated in Figs. 8 and
9, and described on pages 13 and 14. The top flange consisted, however,
of a bridge rail riveted to the top edge of the web, butting at a joint,
and covered by thick cover strips (see Fig. 48). The joint itself was
poor, and depended largely upon the character of the butt, which was not
sufficiently good to prevent the top member kinking at this point, under
the joint influence of transverse effort and compressive stress, with
possibly some help from bolts passing through timber and webs, though
these being loose, the author does not think them at all responsible.
Although not strictly relevant, it may be remarked in passing that it is
very objectionable to use bolts as was done in this instance; for as the
timber settles down on its seat, taking the bolts with it, these bear
hard in the webs, enlarging or even, as in this case, tearing the holes,
accompanied by injury to the bolts themselves. The practice is now
almost obsolete, but the example is instructive as showing the
impropriety of securing timbers by bolts passing through them at right
angles to the action of the load, unless these bolts are quite free to
move with the timber as it compresses.

If trough girders must be used, the better plan is to connect the two
sides by a continuous bottom plate, the trough thus formed being
properly drained, if the timber is not bedded in asphalt concrete; or to
introduce stiff diaphragms at intervals beneath timbers, if the depth

In the case just quoted the curvature of the top members of the girders
was inwards, but in the instance given below, of twin girders 26 feet
effective span, with longitudinal timbers between, resting, as before,
upon the inner ledge formed by the bottom flanges, the curvature was
observed in three out of four girders to be 1/2 inch in a contrary
direction, the fourth remaining straight.

[Illustration: FIG. 48.]

[Illustration: FIG. 49.]

An inspection of the accompanying section, Fig. 49, will, perhaps,
render the reason evident when it is noticed that the top members are
very unsymmetrical in form, the effect of this being to give these
members, under stress, a strong tendency to flex outwards, apparently
more than sufficient to counteract the tendency of an eccentric
application of load on the bottom flange to bring them inwards. It is to
be observed that the eccentricity of the flange appears to be not
materially in excess, and is actually so, only because the thinness of
the web--1/4 inch--renders it incompetent to keep the bottom flange up
to its work, and so secure the full effect of the eccentric loading in
limiting the outward tendency, due to the section of the top member,
the effects of which are thus more apparent than would have been the
case with a stiffer web. Ties across from one bottom flange to the other
prevent the want of symmetry noticed in these--which, by the way, is on
the wrong side for utility--from having any particular effect.

To give one other example of the consequences of eccentric loading, a
bridge of 48 feet effective span may be quoted. This bridge carried four
lines of way supported by five main girders, trussed by kicking-struts
in such a manner as to form a bastard arch. A part section and plan are
given in Figs. 50 and 51.

[Illustration: FIG. 50.]

[Illustration: FIG. 51.]

The floor consisted of Lindsay’s troughing resting upon the lower
flanges of the main girders, the three middle girders, subject to
eccentric loading, sometimes on one side, sometimes on the other, were,
with dead load only, straight; but the two outer girders, liable to
loading only on one side, had, under repeated applications of such a
load, assumed a permanent curve towards the rails--13/16 inch in one
case and 1 inch in the other--which curvature, no doubt, increased when
a live load came upon the contiguous roads, though this was not
measured. It should be remarked in passing that, owing to settlement and
the canting of the abutments, the three middle girders were also
“down”--in one case 3/4 inch. The girders, with one near road loaded,
deflected 1/8 inch--greatly less than would have been the case had the
main girder not been trussed. The bridge, at the time these particulars
were obtained, had been in existence six years.

Deformations due to settlement may be very considerable. The author
recalls two instances affecting continuous girders. In the first of
these, a bridge twenty years old, of two spans of about 50 feet each,
and with girders 4 feet 6 inches deep, the centre pier had sunk 4
inches, reducing the spans, as respects the dead load, practically to
the condition of simple beams, just resting, but hardly bearing, upon
the piers when free of live load.

In the second case, also of two openings of about 55 feet each, with
girders 8 feet deep, one abutment had sunk about 3 inches, more than
doubling the stresses over the centre pier. It is manifest that
continuous girders should only be adopted where settlement of the
supporting points is not likely to occur to any material degree. If this
cannot be relied upon, the theoretical flange sections may hardly be
worked to with any prudence; it being then advisable to make a liberal
allowance for settlement stresses, in which case any economical
advantage that should exist will probably disappear. It is, however, to
be acknowledged that so long as the girders are in touch, under dead
load, with the bearings intended to support them, the stresses due to a
live load are unaltered, the principal effect in this case being that
the variation in stress due to the live load ranges between limits that
are higher or lower in the scale of stress than is the case with
bearings undisturbed; still, if it is desired that the maximum stress
shall not exceed, say, 6 tons per square inch, it can hardly be a matter
of indifference that settlement shall induce a maximum of, perhaps, 10
tons, as in that case the stress must be 4 tons nearer the limit of
statical strength.

Before leaving this matter it may be well to point out that in the case
of continuous girders of uniform section a moderate settlement of the
piers may even be advantageous by reducing the moments over the piers,
and possibly making them equal to those obtaining near the middle of the
spans, in which case there will be less inequality of stress in the
booms and a reduction of the maximum stress.

Bridges consisting of simple main girders connected by cross-girders may
be very prejudicially affected by unequal settlement; for instance, if
one girder bearing settles more than the others, a twist is put upon the
structure very trying to the floor-girder connections, and possibly to
the main girders; to the web if a plate girder, or to the verticals if
an open-webbed truss with rigid cross-girder attachments. Indeed,
settlement of this kind may be much more destructive to a metallic
bridge than to an arch of brick or masonry, the commonly accepted
opinion notwithstanding.

Instances of deformations due to the creeping of some part of the
structure away from its work, are within the author’s knowledge, rare;
except in the case of the ends of main girders in skew bridges, already
referred to.

Distortion, the result of temperature changes, is frequently to be
observed in any considerable length of girder flange or parapet where
there is not freedom of movement, unless due provision is made to check

It is quite common to see parapets out of line, either because the ends
are not free, or because the light work of the parapet being more
exposed to the sun’s rays than the girder work to which the lower part
is attached, expanding to a greater degree, is subject to considerable
compressive force, and buckles under its influence. The cure for this
condition is obviously to provide such parapets with free or flexible
joints at moderate distances apart, or to make the parapet sufficiently
stiff to take the stresses developed, without crippling. A parapet may
also go out of shape if directly attached to the top flange of a girder
liable to heavy loading, particularly if the girder be shallower than
the parapet, simply by its inability to maintain truth of line under the
compressive stress, which it shares with the top flange of the girder

Rivets spaced too far apart, by allowing the plates or other parts to
spring open slightly, and permitting moisture to enter, results in the
growth of rust, which, as it swells in forming, forces the parts
asunder, and may set up considerable stress.

Flat bars riveted together by rivets spaced 12 inches apart may from
this cause be forced asunder, as much as 1/2 inch, sufficient to set up
a stress, with any practicable thickness of bar, much exceeding the
elastic limit.

Local distortions may occur as the result of imperfect workmanship or
careless erection, causing quite possibly very severe local stresses; or
girder flanges may be out of straight as a result of riveting up along
one side first, instead of advancing the riveting simultaneously along
the whole breadth of the flange. The injury done by drifting is well
known, and there is reason to think considerable damage is sometimes
done to girderwork during manufacture by rough treatment to make the
work come together; but the author has little to offer with respect to
these matters that is not common knowledge. It may, however, be pointed
out in passing that a bridge upon the design of which great care has
been expended, with the idea that theoretical propriety shall not be
violated, may be completely spoiled in this respect by careless
construction. Fortunately, both steel and wrought iron, if of good
quality, are long suffering. Incompetent erection will sometimes result
in the true girder camber not appearing, or in differences as between
girders supposed to be similar. This is not, of course, a deformation in
the sense in which the word has previously been used, but it is
desirable to bear the fact in mind as a possible cause of defective
camber in dealing with questions of deformation.

The foregoing has reference chiefly to alterations of form in bridgework
of wrought iron or steel, but a case of considerable interest is that of
a cast-iron arched structure, of which the author made a very complete

[Illustration: FIG. 52.]

[Illustration: FIG. 53.]

This bridge, built in 1839, and carrying two lines of railway, consisted
of three spans, 100 feet each, of 10 feet rise, made up of four inner
and two outer ribs, each rib being in three nearly equal parts; the
floor was of timber, the abutments and piers of masonry. As originally
constructed there was no bracing between the ribs other than the frames
indicated on the plan here given (Fig. 52), stretching from outer rib
to outer rib in the neighbourhood of the rib joints, which were simple
butts without bolts or any equivalent means of connection. The floor
was, however, braced in the horizontal plane, and the structure was also
braced over the masonry piers. After forty-two years’ use supplementary
distance-pieces were introduced between the ribs, but still no bracing
between them, or any efficient means of checking lateral movement. A
crack developing in one of the outer ribs at the crown, led to an
investigation to trace the cause, the bridge then being fifty-four years
old. Careful plumbing of the abutments revealed the fact that three out
of four abutment pilasters were out of the vertical, as shown in Figs.
52 and 53, the greatest amount being 5/8 inch in 6 feet--at that corner
from which the cracked rib had its springing; there was also other
evidence of settlement in an old crack extending from the top of the
abutment to the ground level, although this movement was very old,
certainly as to the greater part. The ribs of this span were also out of
plumb, that which was cracked being 2-1/2 inches out at the centre. The
joints of the ribs, which, as already stated, were simple butts, in some
cases opened and shut, as the load passed over, in such a way as to
suggest that the ribs were acting, in a manner, as four-hinged arches,
of which two hinges were at the springing, and the other two at the
joints, one of which would for most positions of the load be out of use,
reducing the rib to the three-hinged condition; in other words, as the
rolling load passed over the span, one or other of the two joints of a
rib would “gape” an appreciable amount at the bottom or at the top.
Observations were taken by means of a theodolite placed below, either
upon the bank or upon the tops of the masonry piers, sighting upon
suitable scales attached to the ribs to ascertain the amounts of
vertical and horizontal movement during the passage of trains over the
bridge. The principal results are set forth in the following table:--


                        |Fall in| Rise in  | Lateral
            --          |Inches.| Inches.  | Movement
                        |       |          |in Inches.
                      _Span No. 1._
  At A. Up road loaded  |  ·20  |   ·08    |   ·04
   „ A. Down road loaded|  ·08  |   ·03    |   ·04
   „ B. Down road loaded|  ·14  |No record.|   ·02
                      _Span No. 2._
  At C. Up road loaded  |  ·40  |   ·13    |  Slight.
   „ C. Down road loaded|  ·10  |   ·05    |     „
                      _Span No. 3._
  At D. Up road loaded  |  ·22  |No record.| No record.
   „ D. Down road loaded|  ·15  | Slight.  |  Slight.

  NOTE.--The lateral movements are to either side of the mean position.

The particulars for spans 2 and 3 were obtained with the instrument set
up on the pier between these spans. The tremor of this pier was such
that no useful readings for lateral movement could be obtained. Further,
as the rolling load came upon these spans, the effect was to rock the
pier to an extent vitiating the readings for vertical displacement; but
by sighting upon the fixed abutment, and observing the amount of this
rocking, suitable corrections were made in the apparent rib movements.
The figures given in the table are thus corrected. The pier rocking was
equivalent, as an extreme, to an inclination from the vertical of 1 in
3200. An attempt to measure the horizontal movement of the pier-top was
unsuccessful, owing to the impracticability of setting up the instrument
in a suitable position, sufficiently near to the pier to enable readings
to be satisfactorily taken. This horizontal displacement probably
amounted to about 1/16 inch either way. The rise and fall of the arches,
and rocking either way of the piers, varied, as might be expected, in
accordance with the position of the running load with respect to the
spans. Summarising the results, the greatest vertical movements
downwards were 0·20 inch, 0·40 inch, and 0·22 inch for spans Nos. 1, 2,
and 3, the upward movements being 0·08 inch and 0·13 inch for the first
and second spans, there being no recorded result of this kind for the
third span. With adjacent ribs loaded, the movement of the ribs unloaded
was one from one-third to one-half of the full amounts. It is to be
noted that the lateral displacement in no case exceeded 0·04 inch either
way, nor were the vertical movements exceptional; yet, as a matter of
sensation, when seated upon the ironwork, it was a little difficult to
believe them really so moderate. Observations were also made to
ascertain the rise of the arches from winter to summer temperatures,
with the result that this was found to be 0·45 inch, 0·45 inch, and 0·55
inch for the spans in order, the extreme temperatures being fairly
representative of the English winter and summer. The structure was, as a
consequence of the examination, efficiently braced by diaphragms between
the ribs, and diagonals following the arch ribs round from springing to
springing, with satisfactory results. The crack already referred to, and
its probable causes, will be dealt with under “Cast-Iron Bridges.”
Eventually this bridge was reconstructed to meet the requirements of
growing engine-loads.



Deflection, considered only as a fraction of the span, and without
regard to other conditions affecting it, is of very little use as an
indication of a girder’s fitness for its work; but when taken with
reference to the depth of the girder, the nature and amount of the load
producing flexure, and, further, with regard to the quality of the
workmanship and normal properties of the material of which the beam is
constructed, it may be of some little service in helping to form a
reliable opinion. This consideration applies with less force, perhaps,
to new work than to old, in which there may be unknown influences at
work, or unknown defects which by excessive deflection may be betrayed.
Though too much importance should not be attached to results of
deflection tests in any one instance, yet the practice of observing such
movements, and considering them with reference to each case, gives a
good general idea of what may be expected in a fresh instance, any
material departure from which should be a reason for specific inquiry as
to the cause. A further reason with new work is found in the evidence it
affords as to whether the loads carried travel to the supports really as
intended, or by some route not contemplated; or, in the case of floor
beams, in what way the load is distributed amongst them, if, indeed,
there be any such distribution.

The author has commonly found that new work gives greater deflections
than old--i.e., while calculation gives the same result for each, it
does not apply equally well to both. The differences may be accidental,
but are probably due to other causes, perhaps to the fact that new work
has not by repeated applications of load lost the resilience of parts
liable to considerable local stress, such as is very liable to occur at
connections, so that the deflection is, whilst new, greater than after
many years’ use, by which time such parts may develop a definite “set,”
and contribute in a less degree, or not at all, to the total elastic

It is also possible, as already suggested, that repeated high stress may
reduce the ratio of strain to stress, the material gradually becoming
more rigid, the modulus of elasticity being, in fact, increased.

In girders of ordinary construction, the major part of the deflection is
due to the booms, the remainder to the web; the latter is for plate
girders a small amount only, and is commonly neglected, but for open web
constructions it may be quite appreciable. For any given type of web
arrangement the deflection due to the web will, for all depths, remain a
constant quantity for the same span and unit stress; and though a
moderate fraction of the whole deflection for a shallow girder, it may
be a very considerable part for a girder of great depth, in which that
part due to the booms is, of course, smaller, since the deflection due
to these varies inversely as the girders’ depths.

Deflection, being dependent upon the elasticity of the material, is of
necessity very largely influenced by the value of its modulus E, itself
liable to considerable variation, and is increased in a small degree by
the yield of joints and rivets, which effect, apart from the initial
“set” of the girders, appears to be negligible. The stiffness of members
in resisting angular distortion at connections must also, for open-web
riveted structures, affect the result, making it somewhat less, and,
finally, section excess at joints and gusset attachments has an
influence in modifying deflection as compared with that due to the
normal gross sections simply.

From these considerations it is apparent that any simple deflection
formula must be largely empiric in its nature. For plate girders of
uniform depth and flange stress, the writer has found the following to
give good results:--

  ----- × _f_ = deflection in inches.
  D × C

The span S and depth D are, as a matter of convenience, taken in feet;
the constant C is for wrought iron 3500, and for mild steel 4000; _f_ is
the mean of the extreme tensile and compressive stresses of the booms,
in tons per square inch, estimated upon the gross sections.

This, though satisfactory for plate girders, is not so suited to girders
having open webs, in which the deflection will more nearly be

  (3S    S^2 )
  (-- + -----) × _f_,
  (C    D × C)

the constant C being 3900 and 4450 for iron and steel respectively. The
latter values of C correspond to normal values of the modulus of
elasticity of 11,700 and 13,350 tons for iron and for steel, it being
assumed that any slight rivet yield is off-set by any small section
excess--say, 5 per cent.; it may, however, happen that section excess is
greater than assumed, in which case some allowance may properly be made
for this by increasing C.

To adapt the formulæ to girders other than those having parallel booms
and uniform stress, the results, as deduced above, may be multiplied by
constants given in column B of the Table given on page 93.

The practice of adopting for E in deflection formulæ a quantity much
smaller than its nominal amount, with the object of allowing in riveted
girder work for the yield of rivets and of joints, can hardly now be
defended, whatever may have been a case at a time when workmanship was
much inferior, when there was no machine riveting, and joints were,
owing to the small weight of plates and bars, three times as numerous.

The initial “set” of a girder consequent upon first loading is a
quantity quite distinct from deflection proper, and may be so small as
to be negligible, or read 10 per cent. of the true deflection, varying
with design and workmanship.

No estimate of girder deflection can be even approximately true if there
is, at the level of the top or bottom flanges, a plated or otherwise
rigid floor system which is not taken into account, as this will have
the effect of very materially reducing the boom stress. To neglect this
influence, where it exists, must necessarily lead to disappointing
results, and it is quite practicable in many instances to include it in
the calculation.

The influence of angular distortion between the various members has been
neglected. It may be pointed out, however, that the resistance
accompanying these movements in girders having riveted connections,
though unimportant as affecting deflection, is worth some consideration
in regard to secondary stress. For girders of similar type and unit
stress these angular variations will be the same in amount for any span,
but will generally be of less importance in large girders than in small,
because in large girders the ratio of the breadth of members to their
length is commonly less.

When determining the probable deflection of any girder of exceptional
figure, it will be found convenient to make a strain diagram--an old
device, in which the actual alterations of length being ascertained for
all members, the girder is carefully set out to a suitable scale, with
the lengths of members increased or reduced by the actual estimated
amounts. The distorted figure resulting will then give the probable
deflection. The value of E for this purpose should never be taken at
less than the normal amount, and may for a considerable excess of metal
in joints and gussets be made as much as 10 per cent. greater, this
being a convenient means of making the necessary correction.

The effect of loads quickly applied may here be considered in connection
with elastic deformations of girders of the same span, but different
depths. If these be designed for similar loads and unit stresses, the
deflections due to webs and booms of the girders compared will bear the
same relation, each to each, as do the weights, whether in both cases
the loads be inert or quickly applied, from which it follows that the
mechanical “work” done by the loads in falling through the deflection
heights is, neglecting inertia, always in proportion to the girderwork
weights, and is a similar amount per ton, which as the total length of
members remains substantially unaltered, corresponds to a similar amount
of work per unit of section, or similar stress, irrespective of the
depth of the girders.

But for a “drop” load, as when there is some obstruction upon a railway
bridge, there will be in addition a further amount of work to be
absorbed, which is to be considered the same whatever the girder’s
depth, and will for deep girders be a larger amount per ton of
girderwork than in those that are shallow; this, taking effect on
members of the same aggregate length, but lighter, will develop a higher
stress than in girders of lesser depth, more particularly in the booms.

The influence of the girder’s inertia in modifying drop-load effects
will also be less marked in deep--i.e., light--girders than in girders
shallow and heavy.

It is, notwithstanding all this, desirable that the depth of main
girders should be liberal for economy’s sake, and also that of floor
beams, for reasons already dealt with; the probability of the drop load
is somewhat remote, and, though possible, would simply induce, if it
occurred, an increment of stress rather more important in deep girders,
making it specially desirable in these to give particular attention to
the detailing of any connections liable to suffer from impact effects.

It should be remarked that for short and very flexible beams, generally
outside the limits of practice, there may also be, under quickly moving
loads, a material increase of stress due to the centrifugal effort of
the load on running round the deflection curve, and in rising upon the
steep part of the curve beyond the girder’s centre. Where advisable,
these effects may be modified by cambering the rail.

For pin bridges in which there may be spring in the pins, excess stress
in some eye-bars due to inequalities of length, and a want of that
rigidity peculiar to riveted structures, the deflection will be greater
than above indicated for girders of the ordinary English type.

The method in common use for measuring the deflections of girders but a
moderate distance above the ground by means of sliding-rods, though
crude, gives, with care, results sufficiently accurate for most
practical purposes; but some points necessary to remember may be
mentioned with propriety. The lower rod should rest firmly upon
something solid, say a stone, well bedded and free from any tendency to
rock; the upper end should bear against some part of the girder above,
presenting a hard surface, free from dirt or scale, and as the running
load approaches the bridge it should be ascertained that there is no
slack, that the rods bear hard at the top and bottom. The upper end
having been depressed, care is to be exercised to make sure of the
reading before the rods alter their relation to each other. These
precautions are so self-evident that an apology is almost necessary for
mentioning them.

To ascertain deflections with a single pair of rods is only allowable
when the girders rest firmly on their bearings; if felt has been placed
under the girder ends, or if the bedstones are insecure or rocking, it
is necessary to use three pairs of rods, one pair at the middle and a
pair at each end, in which case the mean of the two end readings must be
deducted from the reading of that at the centre to get the desired

In the case of a number of spans in series, each resting upon sill
girders common to two sets of bearings, this method also gives results
of indifferent reliability, as the depression of each end may be greater
as the travelling load comes upon and leaves the span than when it is
precisely over the middle, and it is in general out of the question to
secure by this mode simultaneous readings for a particular position of
the running load, which are what is required.

The author suggests, as a means of ascertaining deflections free from
these objections, that it should be done by first measuring the slope at
one end, and from this deducing the deflection at the centre.

This is to be accomplished by means of a little instrument, consisting
of a telescope with cross-hair sights, and fitted with a reflecting
prism at the eye-piece capable of being turned round, so that the
observer has a wide choice as to the position he assumes with reference
to the instrument, and may look either directly through it, or at right
angles to the axis of the telescope. This is clamped at one end of the
girder over the bearing, at the other end a scale is secured, to which
the telescope is directed, the cross hair being made to sight on the
zero of the scale, or the reading noted. For a girder supposed to
deflect to uniform curvature (say, with uniform depth and uniform
stress, the ordinary case) the reading observed will be four times the
deflection; every 1/10 inch actual reading on the scale will correspond
to 1/40 inch of girder deflection.

Apart from the deflection, this method gives a ready means of observing
the end slope, a quantity of equal value for purposes of comparison. As
with girders of similar proportions, and similarly stressed, the
deflection will at all spans be the same fraction of the span; so should
the end slope be a constant quantity under similar conditions, the
diagram, Fig. 54, will make the principle quite clear.

[Illustration: FIGS. 54 to 57.]

Strictly the character of the deflection curve is slightly modified by
that part of the deflection due to the web; so that the depression at
the centre would, in the case assumed above, be somewhat more than
one-fourth part of the end reading, and generally will be a larger
fraction of the reading than that deduced from a consideration of flange
stress simply. In Figs. 55 to 57, which are intended to explain this,
it will be noticed that deflection due to the web is shown
straight-lined from the bearings to the centre of the girder; this is
strictly true only for a girder correctly designed for an immovable
distributed load; but as there should be for girders intended for a
travelling load, some excess in web members near the centre under the
condition of uniform loading, the point of the figure should be rounded
off to be in agreement with this case, though it is left as shown in the
diagram for the sake of simplicity.

Suitable constants, including the corrections necessary, are given in
column A of the table annexed for a few typical cases, and by these
constants the actual readings should be multiplied to find the
deflection. The constants have been worked out for depths of one-tenth
the span; for greater depths they should be slightly more, and for
smaller depths somewhat less, but they may be used between the limits of
one-sixth and one-fourteenth, with a maximum error hardly exceeding 5
per cent., and generally much less.

The figures in column B relate to the formulæ previously stated, and
apply equally well to all depths.


  _Uniform Stress_:                                           A.     B.
      Girders of uniform depth, varying flange section       0·27   1·00
      Hog-backed girders, ends half of centre depth, varying
      flange section                                         0·24   1·08
  _Varying Stress_:
      [1]Girders of uniform depth and flange section         0·32   0·87
      [1]Hog-backed girders (as above), but uniform flange
      section                                                0·29   0·97
      [1]Bow-string girders of uniform flange section        0·16   1·30

[Footnote 1: For uniform loading.]

It is apparent that, if preferred, the scale, instead of being in
inches, divided suitably, may, for each type of girder, be amplified to
the proper degree, so that the amount of the deflection may be read off
at once.

This method of dealing with deflections is quite independent of the
character of the bearings, and is applicable to girders at any height
above ground or over water; but its use would hardly be practicable for
very small beams, or those in an awkward position, or near which it
would be impossible to remain with a running load upon the bridge.

There is a possible source of error in the use of the instrument, most
likely to occur with triangulated girders, with which, if the instrument
is placed at the top of an end post, the reading observed may be the
joint effect of deflection and of local flexure of the members meeting
near the telescope. This may be tested, and, if necessary, allowed for,
by first sighting upon a scale at the next apex, and observing the
effect of the moving load. Again, as girders sometimes cant towards the
running load, if the instrument is placed on one edge of a girder, and
the cantings of the two ends are dissimilar, a false reading will
result, which may be amended by ascertaining the amount of cant at each
end, and correcting for the effect of the difference between the cants
upon the observation. Only in exceptional cases is it likely that either
of these considerations would need attention.

The author has secured with this instrument very promising results,
notwithstanding that under a running load there is a slight haziness of
the scale as seen through the telescope, due to “dither,” largely the
result of imperfections which may be remedied.

Deflections may sometimes be conveniently taken, by a quick-eyed
observer, with a good surveyor’s level and a specially-divided staff
held at the centre of the girder. The divisions preferred by the author
for this purpose are 1/10 inch, plainly marked, which may be seen at 50
feet distance with sufficient clearness to make possible readings by
estimation between the divisions to, say, 1/50 inch. But it is clearly
desirable not to rely upon a single observation only, where all the
evidence is gone so soon as the sight has been taken.

In rail-bearers, or other short girders, it may not be practicable to
adopt such methods, either on account of an inability to find a suitable
place for the instrument, or to read with any telescope with sufficient
promptitude as the load passes rapidly over. The use of rods may also be
out of the question, as the errors attending their manipulation may be
serious where but a small movement has to be noted, this being
complicated in some instances by the bearings being insecure, and
working to an extent which obscures the measurement sought. In such
cases it is preferable to use a stiff slat lying along the girder, which
bears, through short blocks over the girder bearings, upon the flanges;
the deflection is then read by direct measurement of the girder’s
depression at the centre, relative to the slat.

The author is, unfortunately, not able to give any precise information
on the effect of running-load as against a load that is stationary in
connection with girder deflections. It is by no means easy in ordinary
work upon a railway to secure facilities for making such comparative
tests. It may, however, be confidently stated, as a result of such
observations as he has made, that the deflection due to a load coming
rapidly upon a bridge is, as to the main girders of, say, a 50 feet
span, but little greater than that due to the same load stationary; it
may be, perhaps, 5 to 10 per cent. more.

It is evident that to determine the precise difference where the
quantity to be measured is so small needs apparatus of a more delicate
character than that in common use, and the control of an engine, or
engines, for the purpose of making the special tests, conditions which
on a busy line can only be secured by special arrangements previously



The author has collected particulars as to the amount and rate of
rusting in metallic structures which are of some interest. In all such
instances it is very necessary to note the conditions which have
obtained during the process of wasting, as without this, misleading
conclusions may be drawn. The information given relates in all cases to
wrought iron, unless otherwise stated.

A plate-girder bridge, having girders under rails, was found to be badly
rusted. The atmospheric conditions were unusually trying, the air being
damp and impregnated with acid fumes from adjacent steel works. That the
wasting was largely due to this latter cause was indicated by the fact
that the girders nearest to the steel works suffered more than those
farther removed and partly sheltered from the corrosive influence.

The webs were in places eaten right through, having lost a mean amount
of about 1/8 inch full on each surface in twenty-eight years. Painting
had not been well attended to.

In a similar bridge, not a great distance from this, but sufficiently
far away to modify the conditions for the better, considerable wasting
was also observed, but more particularly where the girders had been
built into masonry, which, loosening with the constant movement of the
girder-ends, had allowed moisture to collect, and rust to develop,
without the chance of repainting these surfaces. The amount of waste at
the places indicated was, as in the last case, about 1/8 inch on each
face, and in the same time, other parts of the girders having suffered

[Illustration: FIG. 58.]

A third plate-girder bridge, with outer main girders, cross-girders, and
plated floor, carrying a road over a railway and sidings, and which was
known to have been neglected in the matter of painting, was very badly
rusted, both as to the cross-girders and floor-plates. The atmosphere
was somewhat damp; the chief cause of deterioration was, however, the
smoke and steam from locomotives, which frequently stood for some time,
during shunting operations, directly under the bridge. The webs of the
cross-girders, which were originally 1/4 inch thick, had rusted into
occasional holes during fourteen years--i.e. 1/8 inch from each surface
in that time. When removed a little later the wasting was so complete
that it was possible to knock out with a light hammer the remains of the
web between flanges and stiffeners, so as to leave an open frame only.
One of the cross-girders was so treated by the men engaged upon the
work, when it presented the appearance shown in Fig. 58.

In another case--that of a bridge with lattice girders under rails--the
ends were built into masonry, which had, of course, loosened, with the
usual result. The air of the locality was certainly pure, but somewhat
damp. The general condition of the ironwork was good, but end-bars of
the diagonal bracing, where they had been closed in, had lost 1/8 inch
on each surface in thirty-three years. The top flanges immediately under
the timber floor were in a very fair state, which is of some interest
when it is considered that these were made of steel of the same kind as
that already noticed as being used in the construction of small girders
(see Fig. 46, _ante_), described in the chapter upon “High Stress,” both
cases dating from the year 1861. The painting upon the lattice-girder
bridge had been pretty well attended to; but in the case of the small
steel girders it had been greatly--perhaps altogether--neglected; this,
coupled with adverse atmospheric conditions, had produced the result
that the rate of rusting had for the small girders been much greater
than that of the steel top flange referred to, being fully 1/8 inch on
each surface, as against a negligible amount under the more favourable

Girder-work over sea-water, as in piers, seems to rust at a sensibly
greater rate than inland work under average conditions; but it is hardly
practicable to make any strict comparison, as in either case the rate of
oxidation is so much affected--even controlled--by the care bestowed
upon the structures. This general conclusion is based upon the results
of examination of wrought-iron girder-work over sea-water of ages
varying from fourteen to forty-four years. It should be remarked,
however, that in one case steel girders but five years old, and which
were frequently wetted with sea-spray, were found to be wasting rather
badly--the paint refusing to keep upon the surface.

It may be concluded from the above instances, and from others which have
come under notice, that wrought-iron work, if not properly cared for in
respect to painting, or under conditions otherwise bad, may be expected
to rust at a rate which corresponds to the loss of 1/8 inch on each
surface in from fifteen to thirty years; but with proper care as to
painting, and exclusive of exceptionally bad conditions, it does not
appear to waste at any measurable rate. In some instances, upon scraping
the paint from girders which had been in use for thirty years, the
author has found, beneath the original red lead, the metallic surface
bright and clean, showing no trace of rust.

Of ordinary steelwork the same cannot be said, the common experience
being that mild steel is very liable to be attacked by rust. With
passable care in the bridge-yard during manufacture, such that with
wrought iron no after-trouble would be noticeable, steel is very liable
to show, within a year of being built up, numerous little blisters on
the painted surface; any one of these being broken away discloses a
small rust-pit. This is more often seen on the flange surfaces
(horizontal) than on web surfaces (vertical), but it is probable the
position has little to do with the matter, and that it is rather due to
the fact that rust has been earlier started on the flange-plates, upon
being put through the drilling-machines and inundated with slurry, which
occurs only to a more limited extent with webs having fewer holes. The
heads of steel rivets do not show this tendency to “pit,” or to early
development of rust. The riveting is about the last operation in making
a girder, each rivet being freed of all rust by heating, and quickly
coming under the protection of oil or paint. It may happen in this way
that the heads of rivets on a girder may be exposed without protection
for as many hours only as the rest of the work for weeks, which fully
accounts for the difference in behaviour.

The essential point to be observed in all steelwork is to prevent, if
possible, the first development of rust, for once begun it is much more
difficult to arrest than in iron; for this reason, oiling of all
material for a steel bridge, at a very early stage of its existence,
cannot be too strongly insisted upon. This practice, however, makes the
work so objectionable, and even dangerous when being lifted--because of
the liability to slip--to the men engaged upon it, that it is commonly
very difficult to ensure it being done sufficiently soon to satisfy a
careful inspector. If the work is carried out under cover, the
requirement is less urgent. Strictly, all material should be oiled so
soon as rolled, but the author does not remember to have seen this done
at any of the mills he has visited, though it is common enough to find
it specified.

Ironwork does not need the extreme care which should be bestowed upon
steelwork, but it is desirable that it should be painted as soon as
possible, the surfaces being first thoroughly cleaned.

There is, probably, for painting girder work nothing to beat good red
lead as a protective coating; but there is considerable difficulty in
getting it reasonably pure, without which quality its utility will be
greatly reduced. The question of purity will, however, be found to be
largely a question of price. It may be stated broadly that, whether for
steel or for iron, the first protective covering is, perhaps, the most
important of any it will ever receive.

In repainting old work, care should be taken to remove all traces of
rust previous to laying on the new coat. It is not an altogether
uncommon practice to repaint old structures by dealing only with the
parts readily accessible, which, being less liable to rust, probably but
little need it; leaving those parts which are difficult of access, and
where rust is developing, untouched; treating the whole business as a
matter of appearance simply. This, it need hardly be said, is
indefensible. It is better rather to neglect the surfaces freely exposed
and ventilated, and devote the whole care upon those other parts,
confined and difficult to get at; taking the trouble necessary to remove
ballast, timber, or whatever may obstruct the operation, in order that
the bad places may be thoroughly scraped, and then painted. Those parts
which most need attention may cost, perhaps, to reach--and deal with
when exposed--ten times as much per yard of surface as the rest of the
superfices, which needs little, and is always accessible; but the cost
should not deter the proper carrying out of the work, as it will prove
the very worst sort of economy to deal with painting in a perfunctory

It should be noted that girder work, whether of wrought or cast iron,
when embedded in lime or cement concrete, or mortar, generally proves to
be very well preserved, provided that close contact has obtained.
Cast-iron girders, when carrying jack arches resting upon the bottom
flanges, are found after long use to be in remarkably good order, when
finally taken out, having, indeed, the surface appearance of new
girders. Much the same remarks apply to girders of wrought iron carrying
jack arches, where protected by the brickwork; provided that the girders
are sufficiently stiff to minimise deflection, and allow the masonry or
brickwork to adhere to the surfaces.

Such girders are in a very different condition to those previously
referred to, in which the ends of the girders, carrying a light floor
structure, are built into masonry where the deflection slope is
greatest; though, apart from the few cases where adherence can be relied
upon, building-in is an undesirable practice, and has the disadvantage
that after-examination is only possible by removing portions of the
masonry, which it is evident would very seldom be resorted to.

Cast iron has ordinarily--unlike wrought iron or steel--great capacity
for resisting rust, and will, after many years of absolute neglect,
appear but little the worse; an advantage which is the more pronounced
when considered relatively to the greater thickness of the thinnest
parts in cast-iron girders, the percentage of waste being
proportionately lessened.

Cast iron does, however, behave somewhat badly in sea-water, the metal
sometimes losing its original character, and becoming in time quite
soft; though, if not worn away, as by the attrition of shingle,
maintaining its original bulk.

Of some forty-five cast-iron piles belonging to various structures,
examined whilst engaged upon sea-pier work for Mr. St. George-Moore,
though the author found somewhat diverse results, in no case did there
appear to be any general softening of the whole thickness, but a
distinct change for some definite distance inwards, generally to be
decided without difficulty, beyond which the metal appeared to retain
its original character. In all cases any material depth of softening was
found close to the ground, this depth rapidly decreasing higher up,
till, at a height of 5 feet, but little if any softening could be
detected. At 2 feet above ground the softening was frequently but
one-quarter of that at ground level. There was, too, often a
considerable difference in the behaviour of different piles in the same
structure under similar conditions; one pile being found to have only
one-fourth part of the softening noticed in others, or possibly none at
all. For six different structures the amount of softening near ground
level, of about twenty-five piles examined, was as given in the table on
the next page.

The greatest depth of softening found (see No. 2) was 9/16 inch, 1 foot
above ground, in a pile thirty-six years old. The decayed material when
removed was of a soft, greasy consistency, perfectly black, which a few
hours later was found to have changed to a dry yellow powder, by the
rapid absorption, it may be supposed, of atmospheric oxygen. It is
apparent, therefore, from this example that deterioration may proceed to
a considerable depth; but it should be observed that other piles of the
set showed softening at ground level of 1/8 inch only.


  No.|  Age.  | Maximum  |  Maximum  |Mean Rate | Quality |Materials
     |        |Softening.|  Rate of  |    of    |of Metal.|Entered
     |        |          |Softening. |Softening.|         |by Piles.
  1  |17 years|5/16 in.  |1/8 in. in |1/8 in. in|Soft     |Extremely
     |        |          |7 years    |15  years |         |soft
     |        |          |           |          |         |sandstone.
  2  |36 years|9/16  „   |1/8 in. in |No result |  „      |Rubble
     |        |          |8-1/2 years|          |         |mound.
  3  |32 years|3/8   „   |1/8 in. in |1/8 in. in|Moderate-|Fine
     |        |          |11 years   |15  years |ly hard  |sand.
  4  |38 years|1/10  „   |1/8 in. in |1/8 in. in|Hard     |Extremely
     |        |          |47 years   |140 years |         |hard rock.
  5  |17 years|Small     |Negligible |          |(?)      |Sand and
     |        |          |           |          |         |Shingle.
  6  |14 years|Negligible|Ditto      |          |(?)      |Sand.

The least rate of softening noticed, apart from those structures of a
more recent date, in two of which it was very slight, occurred in a
pier thirty-eight years old (No. 4), where, of three piles tested, two
were quite hard, and the third softened 1/10 inch only.

Whatever may be the precise cause of the change, it does not appear to
be affected by the period or percentage of immersion during the rise and
fall of tides.

[Illustration: FIG. 59.]

This will be clear from the diagram, Fig. 59, which refers to four piles
(No. 3 of table), all of the same age, in the same structure. On each
pile the depth of softening is given at points in strict relation to
each other, and to the tidal range. The percentages of immersion for the
various heights are also given, from a study of which it will be
apparent that these have no relation to the amount of softening; this,
indeed, is always greatest near the ground, at whatever actual height it
may be. For instance, pile A was at ground-level softened 1/4 inch,
that point being 60 per cent. of its life under water; but on pile B, at
a point 74 per cent. of the time submerged, and 4 feet above a lower
ground-level, no softening was apparent; further, at ground-level of
this pile, the percentage being there 87, the softening was no greater
than at ground-level at pile A.

It is probable that while the percentage of submersion in moving water
hardly appears to affect the result, yet prolonged contact with wet
sand, sea-weed, or clinging shell-fish may do so. This seems to suggest
that the process of change, as between the sea-water and the iron, is
slow, and to be effective must be continuous; so that it is only found
to any considerable extent where the water in contact with the surface
is still. In the two worst cases, Nos. 1 and 2 of the table, at points 1
foot and 6 inches above ground-level, the surface was in one pile
shrouded in a thick mantle of heavy sea-weed, and in the other covered
by molluscs; in both instances the surfaces being thus kept moist and
undisturbed. The piles of the fourth case were in hard rock, were clean,
and, where accessible, always either in moving water or quite dry.

However this may be, the power to resist softening certainly appears to
vary largely with the quality of the iron. The piles, referred to above,
in which deterioration proceeded at the most rapid rate were certainly
of a soft metal, the first being markedly so. On the other hand, certain
piles (No. 4) of hard, close-grained iron suffered very little.

It may be mentioned with respect to the last named, as a matter of
interest, that the caps of the lower lengths (just above ground-level)
had been cast with short pieces of wrought iron projecting--possibly for
lifting purposes--which during thirty-eight years had altered in
character to something very like softened cast iron, but laminated, and
harder. Of about 1-1/4 inch original thickness, only 3/16 inch remained
having the semblance of wrought iron. The percentage of submersion was
about 60.

A number of piles, not included in the table, varying from fifteen to
forty-four years old, and of the same structure to which set No. 2
belonged, were all found to be hard, with the exception of one showing
3/16 inch of softening. These are omitted, because the mud surrounding
them was at the time of examination unusually high, so that the more
normal ground-level could not be reached, at which points testing might
have disclosed different results. It is probable that for any piles
standing in soft material examination below the surface would reveal
more pronounced softening than where occasionally exposed.

To meet the effects of sea-water on cast-iron piles, and for other
reasons, it is a common and good practice to make the lower lengths of
greater thickness--say, 3/8 inch more--than that sufficient for the
upper. Occasionally, also, the bottom lengths are filled with concrete,
which no doubt adds to the length of time during which they may be
relied upon.



In the preceding chapters defects of various kinds to which riveted
bridgework is liable have been more particularly dealt with; it is now
proposed to consider the examination of such structures, following this
by a reference to methods of repair and strengthening, leaving the
treatment of other classes of bridgework to be developed under their
proper headings, though some of the remarks immediately following will
apply to all.

The exhaustive survey of a bridge is only to be made after considerable
experience in the work, but it may be stated that in looking for defects
it is well to seek where they are least expected, till, with practice,
one knows better where to direct attention. When examining with a view
to pronouncing an opinion upon the fitness of the structure to remain in
place, if in any real doubt, it is wise to give a casting vote against
it; and finally it may be said that upon taking down a bridge condemned
for any one or more defects, it should be examined for worse. This may
seem to be somewhat pessimistic, but is based upon the teachings of

Preliminary examination of a bridge may reveal such faults or weaknesses
as at once to ensure its condemnation; but if this is not the case, and
there is a reasonable probability that the structure may be given a
fresh lease of life, it will, for the purpose of estimating the
strength, or for possible repairs, commonly be desirable to secure
precise particulars of the existing structure independently of any
drawings that may be in existence, and which will very probably be
incorrect, the finished work, if old, seldom agreeing with the contract
drawings. A final decision may in this case be deferred till after the
measuring up has been completed, the condition of the structure becoming
more familiar in the process.

It is desirable first to ascertain whether the bridge remains in good
form, whether the camber of girders appears to be what might be
expected, or agreeable with existing records, though much reliance must
not be placed upon figured cambers, it being quite common for girders to
leave the bridge yards with the camber something other than that
intended. The deflections under live load will also be observed, and
compared with the calculated result, or checked by judgment. The
calculations upon which strength and deflections are based will, of
course, refer to the actual sections, which are sometimes a little
difficult to ascertain if there has been irregular rusting. In
continuous girders also, levels having been taken, allowance should be
made for effects of settlement, if any; and with arches evidence of
movement of the piers or abutments sought for, with the like object. It
is seldom that the main flanges of girders show signs of weakness,
unless from flexure in the case of long and narrow top members,
insufficiently stiffened; but there may be want of truth from other
causes already dealt with. In plate girders the webs should be most
carefully scanned for possible cracks, particularly where cross-girders
are connected, and along the upper edges of bottom flange angles, if the
floor rest upon the flange. All riveted connections, of course, need
close attention, both for straining effects, where there is a liability
to wracking, and to detect loose rivets. Loose rivets and want of
tightness in other parts of the work may frequently be detected at
sight by a reddish bloom which appears on the neighbouring surfaces,
caused by rust working out and spreading under the effects of weather;
it may be seen round rivet-heads or along the edges of angle-bars, or
other parts where there is movement. Loose rivets, though generally to
be detected also by the hammer, may perhaps in the case of thin-webbed
cross-girders be working in the web-thickness only, possibly to a
considerable extent. This, if not otherwise evident, may sometimes be
detected by simultaneous deflection tests--with rods--at the top and
bottom flanges of a girder, at the same distance from the bearings. Any
difference in the readings may indicate loose web-rivets, or possibly a
tear in the web running parallel to the flange angles.

Bracings between girders are very apt to display a rich harvest of
working rivets. Cross-girders and longitudinals also may have loose
rivets at their connections, and be very badly wasted, with quite
possibly cracks in the webs, or other defects already enlarged upon.

The condition of the road upon the bridge will frequently be an
indication of the state of the floor which carries it; or the existence
of rail-joints which are working badly may very properly lead to a
critical examination of the girder-work immediately below, as this is a
fruitful source of damage in light constructions. Floor-plates, where
these exist, should be scanned for leakages, drainage nozzles, and
guttering, to see that they are free, the attachments of the latter
being often loose and unsatisfactory.

Trough floors may be expected to show loose rivets near the ends, with a
probability of excessive leakage where they abut against the webs of
supporting girders.

Floor plates resting upon abutments or piers, being very liable to
serious decay, require attention, and girder-work entering masonry
should receive close scrutiny, any obstruction to a sufficient
examination being removed so far as is judged sufficient for the
purpose. The structure should, of course, be closely watched during the
passage of live load for any signs of abnormal movement, excessive
vibration, or lurching.

In addition to seeking for these various defects, or others which have
been referred to in these pages at length, it will be well always to be
alive to the possibility of faults to be seen for the first time, or of
which the author has furnished no instance.

Having formed a reliable opinion as to the state of the bridge, this, if
satisfactory, may leave to be determined only the question of strength
relative to the loads carried. It is apparent that stress limits
suitable for a new structure, which has all its life before it, of
purpose moderate to cover possible deteriorations, the growth of loads,
and other adverse influences, may to avoid immediate reconstruction,
reasonably be permitted of a higher value for a further term of years in
the case of a structure which it is known has for a considerable period
behaved well, and remains in good condition. What this higher value may
be will be greatly influenced by the circumstances of each case, and,
being largely a matter of judgment, may be expected to vary with
different engineers. Experience shows, however, that the nominal unit
stress in an old bridge may be a very considerable amount in excess of
that allowed for new work, without, of necessity, showing any ill
effects; and the author is of opinion that for old bridges in good
condition it is quite prudent to allow an excess of 33 per cent. beyond
that permissible for a new design. If the structure is too weak to
satisfy this modified condition, it may be possible to bring it within
the stress limit by a reduction of ballast or other removable dead
weight. If this expedient does not promise to be satisfactory, or the
bridge shows actual signs of weakness, or palpable defects, it will be
necessary to deal with the question of repair, strengthening, or

The repair of built up bridgework resolves itself largely into a matter
of replacing loose rivets by cutting these out, rhymering the holes, if
desirable, and again riveting. It will often be sufficient to do this
with no particular precautions as to bolting up temporarily; the rivets
having been loose, may very well be spared for a time. In re-riveting
cross-girder connections it may, however, be imperative to remove all
the rivets, bolting up securely as this is done, in order to make a
tight job, taking out each bolt in turn as required, and again filling
the holes; or it may be well in a bad case first to remove all loose
rivets, substituting good bolts, in order that work which has gone out
of shape owing to defective rivets may first be brought true.

Cross-girder webs, cracked vertically or nearly so, are commonly
repaired with splice-plates on either side; but in doing this it is
undesirable to add plates of excessive thickness relative to the
web--probably poor--as by an abrupt change of web section it appears not
unlikely a fresh break may be favoured.

[Illustration: FIG. 60.]

[Illustration: FIG. 61.]

[Illustration: FIG. 62.]

[Illustration: FIG. 63.]

Replacing wasted flange-plates, or adding new plates to those which
exist, is occasionally resorted to in the case of main girders, the
flanges of which are sufficiently accessible, but the operation is
difficult, takes some little time, and should only be attempted under
the constant supervision of a thoroughly capable man. When done, if the
girder has not been relieved of load by staging, the stress under full
load will be unequally distributed between the old and the new section,
the old always taking more by the amount of the dead-load stress
previously carried. The method which the author has seen applied to
lattice girders of about 80 feet span, having good angle-bars in the
flanges, with a shallow vertical web for attachment of diagonals,
consisted in first cutting out the old flange rivets, and substituting
bolts well screwed up, till all the rivets necessary had been removed.
The new plate length having been prepared, was, on a Sunday, during a
few hours’ cessation of traffic, marked off, the temporary bolts being
removed for the purpose, and then replaced. After the plate had been
drilled, on a later Sunday, it was finally put into position, bolted up,
and riveted at leisure; cover-plates make additional trouble, but are
dealt with on the same principle. The method as shown in Fig. 60 is,
however, barely practicable for so many plates. It is preferable, if it
is proposed to add section, to do this with as little interference as
possible with existing rivets of importance. This may be accomplished,
if the existing plates are not too wasted at their edges, by riveting on
new strips or angle-bars (see Figs. 61 to 63). Occasionally the strength
of a girder is increased by the addition to the top or bottom boom of
material in such a form as sensibly to increase the depth, and thus,
while adding increased section to one boom, to reduce the stress in
each, though to dissimilar amounts. By this device also the relief is
effective only as regards the live-load stress; under dead load only the
new material does no work, provided, of course, that no relief staging
was used during the alterations. For girders carrying any considerable
proportion of dead load the method is very inefficient, though for
others, in which the live load is relatively large, the result should be
more satisfactory.

As this question of adding new section to old is of much importance in
dealing with repairs and strengthening operations, a few general remarks
upon the subject will be pertinent. The difficulty in such work commonly
is to cause the new to render any considerable assistance to the old in
those cases which occur in practice. If a bar be imagined under
longitudinal stress varying between 0 and a maximum, then, if the area
of the piece be increased at the time when it takes no stress, its
capacity for resisting the maximum amount will be increased, and for
added material of similar elasticity the unit stress proportionately
reduced. If, however, the load on the bar does not vary, the mere
addition of metal will not relieve the original section in any degree.
To take a third case, of the maximum being twice the minimum load, it
will be necessary, in order to lower the maximum unit stress by 25 per
cent., to double the original section of the bar if, as supposed, the
extra metal has been added to the piece when under the smaller load, so
that the new section is only effective in assisting to carry the
remainder of the load at such times as it may be imposed. The
relationship stands thus:--

      Live load         New area
  ---------------- × -------------- = relief.
  Live + dead load   New + old area

These statements will be true under the conditions named, within the
elastic limit of the material; but some advantage would be derived in
the second case, and a more marked benefit in the third, if the load
assumed to be a maximum were exceeded, or if the composite bar were
tested to destruction; as, however, these effects would be outside the
limiting conditions imposed, it must be a matter of judgment as to how
far this reserve of strength may be considered of value.

If, instead of simply adding section to the bar, some part of the
constant load is put upon the new section by the manner of attachment,
the combination will, of course, be more effective.

To apply these considerations and illustrate the way in which the two
methods of adding flange section work out when reduced to figures, the
case will be supposed of a girder 6 feet deep, carrying a load of which
one-third is dead and two-thirds live. To the flanges of this girder are
added plates equal to 50 per cent. of the original areas, in order to
reduce the stress of 7 tons per square inch to which the girder before
strengthening is liable, the depth remaining substantially unaltered.
With dead load only the original section would be stressed to 2·3 tons
per square inch, the new section being then unstressed. Under full load
the new and old material take 3·1 tons per square inch additional,
making the modified stress on the original section 5·4 tons per square
inch, as against 7 tons; or a reduction of 22 per cent. This compares
with 33 per cent., the relief due to 50 per cent. increase of flange
area under ordinary conditions of stress distribution.

Let the second method of strengthening the girder now be considered,
using, for purposes of comparison, the same total amount of new material
to increase the girder depth by an addition to the top flange. This
section will be equal to the area of one flange, which, though it may
be applied in many different ways, giving a greater or a less increase
to the depth, would probably be used in some such manner as that shown
in Fig. 64, increasing the effective depth for live-load stress by
nearly 10 inches.

[Illustration: FIG. 64.]

The added material will, as in the previous case, leave the dead-load
stress unaltered, or 2·3 tons per square inch. The stress in the bottom
flange due to live load will, however, now be 4·1 tons per square inch,
making a total stress of 6·4 tons per square inch, against 7 tons--the
original stress. The reduction here is 8 per cent. only, as compared
with 12 per cent., the relief due, under ordinary conditions, to an
increase of effective depth from 6 feet to 6 feet 10 inches, and by the
use of additional material, equal, as before, to one-half of the total
flange areas before the alteration.

The effect on the top flange need not be here gone into in detail, but
it may be said that, owing to the increase of gross section and of
depth, the ultimate stresses of both the new and old material are
greatly less than as given for the bottom flange.

Girders strengthened by the first of these two methods would, it is
probable, if tested to destruction, give results more nearly in accord
with the actual percentage increase of flange section, plastic
deformation of the metal, before failure, tending to reduce the
differences of stress on the new and old material of the sections.

[Illustration: FIGS. 65 and 66.]

Web members of lattice girders may, if weak, sometimes be dealt with by
the introduction of supplementary bars, parallel to and between the old
members, or by the addition of strips or angles to the existing
diagonals. The treatment will be largely influenced by the nature of the
old detail, which may lend itself to some one arrangement much better
than to any other.

End riveting of web members may, if it has become loose, be dealt with
by simply rhymering the holes a size larger, and re-riveting in the best
manner, if the stresses are not excessive; or it may be necessary to
devise some additional attachments by which new rivets are brought into
use (see Figs. 65 and 66). The effective relief due to supplementary
rivets will be influenced by similar considerations to those governing
increase of section.

[Illustration: FIG. 67.]

[Illustration: FIG. 68.]

Old structures are very frequently deficient in bracing, which may, in
such cases, be advantageously introduced; or girders individually weak
may be rendered collectively efficient by suitable bracing. In
considering the advisability of this, however, the case should be viewed
with regard to the possible effects of such members, as already dealt
with in the chapter relating to these questions. There it has been
pointed out that bracing between a system of parallel girders may have
the effect, under live load, of increasing the stress on the outer
girders due to twisting of the structure as a whole, though the inner
girders will, except for full loading of the whole bridge, be advantaged
as to stress values, and in any event bettered by being held up to their
work. The effect upon the outer girders may be met by increasing their
strength, if this appears to be necessary. In all such alterations the
detail should be schemed with special care to ensure simplicity in
execution, smith’s work being rigorously avoided. A good arrangement for
supplementary bracing between plate-girders, which gives little trouble
in carrying out, is shown in Fig. 67; or where the stiffeners of such
girders are in line across the bridge, the detail given in Fig. 68 may
involve less expenditure. Difficulties may be experienced in riveting,
unless great care is taken in the positioning of rivets. Fitting-bolts
are only to be relied upon as such, if they really justify the name;
they are, though easy to specify, by no means easy to secure under the
conditions of practical work. Weak cross-girders may make
alterations--in some cases considerable--necessary, to rectify the
defect of strength. The removal of old girders to make room for new is
seldom resorted to, unless the existing detail renders this a simple
operation; but it is not unusual to introduce new girders between the
old in cases where there is no plated floor to make the work difficult.
By this method there is, of course, an increase of appreciable amount in
the dead load carried by the main girders, which would in many instances
be objectionable. With deep and heavy main girders, having plate webs,
cross-girders may be strengthened by improving the end connections by
suitable gussets, and attachment to good vertical stiffeners, the fixity
of the ends thus aimed at being assured by overhead struts or girders,
from one main girder to its fellow, at intervals apart well considered
with reference to the horizontal strength of the top flanges, the whole
thus making a closed frame, as shown in Fig. 69. The method appears
feasible, but it should be stated that the author has not known it to be
applied in its entirety as a means of strengthening an old floor.

[Illustration: FIG. 69.]

A simple and very common device consists in substituting for the
ordinary cross-sleeper road, where this exists, stout timber
longitudinals under the rails, which have, where the cross-girders do
not exceed 5 feet centres, a marked distributive effect, tending to
reduce the maximum load upon any individual girder. With a similar
object, trough girders containing longitudinal timbers are sometimes
adopted where the depth available is not enough to enable sufficiently
stiff timbers to be used alone. In either case the object sought is the
same--to modify the effect of the heavier wheel loads upon isolated
cross-girders. When the spacing is so close as 4 feet, the beneficial
result of this treatment is considerable, but at 8 feet centres it can
have but a moderate effect where timbers alone are used.

Occasionally, for long cross-girders, a distributing girder is placed,
with the same intent, in the 6 feet way, its function being limited to
this use only if the depth and strength are sufficiently small to serve
this object alone, as distinct from the case in which it becomes a
carrying girder transferring load to the abutments. As a distributor
simply, the girder has to equalise the bending moments amongst the
cross-girders, to effect which it will be evident that these moments
having been ascertained for the several cross-girders previous to
alteration, for a position of the wheel loads such that the heaviest
comes upon a centre cross-girder, the mean of these moments will, when
compared with that for each girder, show the difference to be induced as
a result of introducing the distributor. These differences of moment
render necessary at the centre of the cross-girders reactions upwards or
downwards, as the case may be, of amounts competent to induce moments
below the inner rails equal to these differences.

It is these reactions which must be provided by the distributing girder
at a moderate stress, and without flexure of such an amount as sensibly
to modify the reactions. The greatest section necessary at any one point
may then be adopted for the girder throughout. The result will commonly
work out to a moderate section, but there will be no harm in a little
excess in a case of this kind, the total cost being but little affected
by some small addition to the weight, where labour upon the site is so
considerable an item as in work of this description. The ends of the
distributing girder should be carried on to the abutments or piers to
ensure adequate relief of the end cross-girders. It will be found
desirable in arranging for distributing girders to ascertain at an early
stage, by boning or by levelling, the condition of the cross-girders as
to uniformity of heights, as this may affect the length most suitable
for separate sections. Between the underside of the distributor and the
cross-girder tops there will commonly be spaces of varying amounts,
which should be filled by packings to fit, rather than by pulling the
work together by force, introducing undesirable stresses of uncertain

In the earlier remarks upon the strengthening of bridgework by the use
of new material, it has been assumed that the modulus of elasticity of
the new metal is similar to that of the old; it may, however, as in
cases where wrought-iron work is reinforced by additions in steel, be
necessary to take the difference of elastic properties into account,
with which object the new section should be multiplied by a quantity
(greater or less than unity) inversely proportional to the higher or
lower modulus of the new material, that is to say, by

  E of old material
  E of new material



The addition of distributing girders, described in the last chapter, as
a means of strengthening a bridge floor, while sufficient in many cases
so far as the cross-girders are concerned, does not in any appreciable
way assist the main girders. When for a two-line bridge, having outer
main girders only, this result also is desired, together with a more
complete relief of the floor structure, centre main girders may be used,
placed either above or below the cross-girders, on the centre line of
the bridge.

There are two principal ways in which such a girder may be brought into
use; the easier, but generally less economical, is by making a simple
attachment to the cross-girders, the old girder work still taking the
whole dead load. By this method the new girder does no work but carry
itself till the live load comes upon the bridge, and must be made very
stiff to take any sensible portion of the running load; the second
method is to make the connection adjustable, so that a part of the floor
weights may be imposed upon the new girder as an initial load. In doing
this the old outer girders will rise slightly, being relieved of stress,
and the cross-girders also lifted at the middle, whilst the new girder
is depressed as the load is brought upon it. With some part of the live
load a very considerable proportion of the total may in this way be
carried by a centre girder of moderate section. The whole question, by
either method, turns upon deflections; and it is in determining the
relative movements of the girders that the problem chiefly lies.

It is convenient first to determine the percentage of load relief to be
effected in the main girders, as to which it is to be observed that as
this relief (distributed) is induced by the upward reaction of the new
girder acting at the centre of the cross-girders, the stress relief of
these will, as a rule, greatly exceed that of the outside girders. For
the generality of cases, it may be taken that the relief suitable for
the outside girders will be satisfactory in its effects upon the
cross-girders, even though it is desired to reduce the stress in these
to a greater degree.

If, however, it be thought desirable to check this, it may be done by
considering a cross-girder subject to its dead and live loads acting
downwards, and to reactions at the centre and ends. At the centre the
reaction will be the load of which the two main girders are relieved on
a length equal to the pitch of the cross-girders, or as here given:--

  _c_ × _t_ × P = reaction at centre (1)

_c_ being the percentage of relief; _t_ the total load per foot run of
the bridge; and P the pitch of cross-girders. The live loads carried by
the cross-girders are for this purpose taken at per foot run, as for the
main girders. With these data it will be easy to construct a diagram of
moments, making it evident whether the relief proposed for the main
girders will give a sufficient percentage of relief to the floor beams.

Granting that this proportion has been decided, and dealing first with
the case in which the centre girder is simply attached to the
cross-girders, and takes no dead load other than its own weight, then
the live load carried by the outside girders, and previously borne
wholly by them, will be reduced by the amount it is intended to transfer
to the centre girder, and will become

  L{_l_} - (_c_ × L{_t_}) = live load on outer girders (2)

L{_l_} being the total live load, and L{_t_} the total dead and live
load carried by the bridge. From this the deflection of the outer
girders corresponding to this modified live load may be derived.

[Illustration: FIG. 70.]

It is next necessary to ascertain the vertical movement, commonly a
depression, of the cross-girders at the centre relative to their ends,
when subject to the running load only, and supported at the middle and
ends, the centre reaction being obtained as before indicated (1). This
movement will be the difference (if any) between the deflection on the
whole span of the cross-girder due to the live load, and the upward
flexure of the girder due to the centre reaction, considered as separate
effects. Stress values having been estimated for the two conditions,
these results may readily be deduced by simple flexure formulæ,
observing that while the curve of moments due to live load sufficiently
approximates to that for a distributed load to justify, for this, the
use of a distributed load formula as given in the chapter “Deflections,”
the flexure due to the centre reaction will be but 0·80 of that which
corresponds to the same stress for distributed loading. Or, the curve
assumed by the girder under live load may be plotted by a method to be
later explained.

The sum of the movements now determined--that is, the live-load
deflection of the outer girders, and depression, as is commonly the
case, of the cross-girders--will give the extreme depression (marked _m_
in Fig. 70), from the dead-load condition of the middle cross-girders,
when supported to the extent desired by a centre girder whose
proportions are not yet known, but which, carrying the required
percentage of the total load, must, subject to a reservation presently
stated, deflect only this amount. The unit stress in the flanges of the
new girder, governed by this flexure, will for a plate girder be

  D × C × _m_
  ----------- = _f_, unit stress on gross section (3)

D and S being, as before (see “Deflections”), the depth and span
respectively in feet, C a constant, _m_ the deflection in inches, and
_f_ the stress per square inch on the gross section of flange.

The gross area A, of the flange, is given by

  S × _c_ × L{_t_}
  ---------------- = gross area of flange (4)
    8 × D × _f_

_c_ × L{_t_}, being, as in (2), the load transferred to and carried by
the centre girder.

The actual stress in the flanges will, of course, be greater by an
amount due to the girder’s own weight; but this does not affect the
question of relief. For any ordinary case the stress per square inch
will be low; but it will manifestly be useless to assume a greater
stress with a view to economy, as the effect of reducing the section
will simply be to make the girder too flexible, thus causing it to be
less effective than primarily intended. If, as is seldom the case, there
is freedom as to the depth of girder permissible, it is evident the unit
stress may be made a condition, and the depth deduced by a suitable
modification of formula (3); the relief desired being in this way
equally well assured. Indeed, in the rare instances in which any depth
may be adopted, this method is--contrary to the general rule--distinctly
economical, particularly if the girder may be placed below the
cross-girders, which simply rest upon it, without elaborate attachments.

[Illustration: FIG. 71.]

Considering now the second method of applying centre girders by which
the new girder is made initially to carry part of the dead load, by
adjustment, it will at once be recognised as a more complex matter. The
measure of relief by which the old girderwork shall benefit need not be
affected by the method of applying the centre girder, and may be decided
on the principles already considered. The outer girders carrying a
reduced load, when the bridge is fully loaded, and the cross-girders
being in part supported at their centres in the manner already
described, will give a resulting depression _m_ (see Fig. 71) of the
centre cross-girders, below the original dead-load position, of a
similar amount determined in the same way. This extreme depression
determines also the lowest position of the new centre girder, which may
be designed to carry the required percentage of the total bridge loads
with the maximum stress and depth, as conditions, leaving the initial
dead load and necessary adjustments to be ascertained. This is the
common case and will be here dealt with, it being assumed to avoid
ambiguity in description that the new girder lies above the

The centre girder of fixed depth being then required to carry a definite
load at a definite flange stress, will deflect a definite amount at this
stress. If this deflection equalled the extreme depression _m_ of the
old girder work, no adjustment would be necessary, the centre girder
then carrying no initial dead load, as by the first method; but for
centre girders designed for economical flange stress the deflection will
in ordinary cases greatly exceed this, the depth generally being small,
and in order to ensure that the new girder shall do its full work, some
dead load must be put upon it. In the act of adjustment the
cross-girders must be lifted and the centre girder depressed, till the
joint movement equals the excess _s_ of the centre girder deflection
over _m_, when the new girder will carry the proper amount of initial
load, and upon further deflection under live load give the full measure
of relief. The amount of “lift” or upward flexure of the old girder
work, and the depression or “drop” of the new girder, during adjustment,
will depend upon relative stiffness, and may be ascertained as

For unit reactions at the centre of the cross-girders the upward flexure
of these may be ascertained, as also the upward flexure of the two outer
girders when subject to forces of the same total amount (one-half to
each) applied at the cross-girder ends. The sum of these movements will
give the total lift of the centre cross-girders, when all are subject to
unit lifting forces; similarly, the depression of the centre girder for
unit loads applied at the cross-girders may be determined. There will
then be known the movements upwards and downwards of the old and new
work when being drawn together by unit forces applied as stated.


  _l_    = lift due to unit loads,
  _l{t}_ = total lift due to adjustment,
  _d_    = drop due to unit loads,
  _d{t}_ = total drop due to adjustment,
  _s_    = deflection excess = gross adjustment,

there will then be

  --------- × _s_ = _d{t}_,
  _l_ + _d_

total drop of centre girder under adjustment,

  --------- × _s_ = _l{t}_,
  _l_ + _d_

total lift of centre cross girders under adjustment,

  ------ × unit load =

initial load put upon centre girder at each cross-girder.

The rise of the two outer girders for upward forces together equal to
those depressing the centre girder may readily be deduced.

[Illustration: FIG. 72.]

[Illustration: FIG. 73.]

The act of adjustment may conveniently be effected by the arrangement
shown in Fig. 72, in which each cross-girder is hung up at its centre by
four bolts. At the middle of the centre girder the total amount to be
screwed up will be that corresponding to the deflection excess _s_, but
towards the ends this amount decreases, and may advantageously be
represented by a diagram as Fig. 73, in which, if _s_ represents to
scale the amount to be screwed up at a centre cross-girder, the
corresponding amounts for other girders may be read off direct. It will
be apparent that it must be necessary to place the centre girder at
such a height as to leave a space between the old and the new work
greater than the amount to be screwed up, this excess clearance being
ultimately filled by a packing.

The precautions to be observed in carrying out this kind of work, and
the practical methods of adjustment adopted by the author after some
little experience, may here be given.

Great care is necessary at the outset to ascertain the true spacing of
the cross-girders, to ensure that the bolt-holes in the bottom flange of
the centre girder shall come where desired. The fixing of the
cross-girder brackets also needs close attention to avoid after trouble,
the bolt-holes in the brackets being preferably drilled on the site
after fixing. It will, for masonry abutments, be necessary to fix
bedstones to receive the new centre girder, which, being carried out
quite possibly under adverse traffic conditions, will perhaps leave the
stones liable to settle slightly when the full load is carried. To
eliminate the bad effect of this upon the ultimate adjustment, and to
take up any initial set of the new girder work, which would be
prejudicial in the same way, it is desirable, the centre girder being in
place, to screw up the bolts temporarily and leave the work for a week
or two. To ensure regularity in the screwing up process, it is
convenient to prepare, for use at the bridge, a diagram somewhat similar
to Fig. 73, giving the amount by which the new and old work are to be
brought together at each cross-girder, with the number of turns for each
nut to effect this. With a man at each side of the girder, the whole
length is traversed, giving a half-turn to each nut; this is repeated as
often as necessary, and so managed as to bring all up proportionately to
the final requirement, keeping tally with chalk marks over each
cross-girder as a check. The preliminary screwing up should be conducted
with little less care than that adopted for the later adjustment, to
avoid damage to the old work. This later adjustment having in due course
been effected, it is then necessary to measure for packings to fill the
spaces remaining between the old cross-girders and the new centre
girder. These spaces should be callipered at each of the four corners,
care being taken to avoid after-confusion. The measurements ascertained
will, however, be too great for the finished packings, as an allowance
of not less than 1/10 inch (total), will commonly be wanted to cover
irregularities in the surfaces. The packings, having been prepared and
checked, may be slipped into place after slacking all the bolts a small
amount to permit this to be done, finally screwing up tight and securing
the nuts by split-pins, through holes drilled as the last operation.

As a check upon the calculations and adjustment, the “lift” of the outer
girders and cross-girders, and the “drop” of the centre girder may be
observed by levelling. For this purpose the author has used a staff of
inches divided into tenths, with which, and a good level, very accurate
readings may be taken for short distances.

No reference has been made to the effect of skew in a bridge on the
above methods, the explanation given applying rather to bridges square
on plan. The influence of skew on the load distribution will largely be
a matter of detailed calculation. The flexure of the girders may also be
sensibly affected, but may be arrived at with sufficient accuracy
without any great trouble. The chief effect of skew is to modify the
amount of screwing up during adjustment, which may be better understood
by reference to Fig. 74, and comparing it with Fig. 73, the adjustment
diagram for a square bridge.

To illustrate how these methods of strengthening work out, and compare
as to weights of centre girders required, the case has been assumed of a
wrought iron bridge of 60-feet span, having outer girders 5 feet deep,
of 39 square inches gross flange area; and cross-girders, at 8-feet
centres, 27-feet span, 1 foot 9 inches deep, with a gross flange area of
twenty square inches. The dead load and live load on either road are
each 1·75 tons per foot run.

The stress in the outer girders previous to the alteration being 6 tons
per square inch gross, it is desired to relieve this to the extent of 33
per cent. by a steel centre girder. In the table here given the
quantities given in italics are fixed as primary conditions:--


                              |  Centre   |  Centre    |
                              |  Girder,  |  Girder,   |Adjustments
             ----             |  Stress   |   Depth    | Unknown.
                              |  Unknown. |  Unknown.  |
       _Outer Girder._        |           |            |
                              |           |            |
  Deflection under modified   |           |            |
  live load                   |  ·42 in.  |  ·42 in.   | ·42  in.
  Lift of adjustment          |   _nil_   |   _nil_    | ·153  „
                              |           |            |
      _Cross Girders._        |           |            |
                              |           |            |
  Depression under live load  |           |            |
  --modified conditions of    |           |            |
  support                     |  ·13 in.  |  ·13 in.   | ·13   „
  Extreme depression (_m_)    |  ·55  „   |  ·55  „    | ·55   „
  Lift of adjustment (cross-  |           |            |
  girder only)                |   _nil_   |   _nil_    | ·095  „
  Total lift of adjustment    |           |            |
  (_l{t}_)                    |   _nil_   |   _nil_    | ·248  „
                              |           |            |
      _Centre Girder._        |           |            |
                              |           |            |
  Depth                       | _3·5 ft._ |  8·2 ft.   |_3·5 ft._
  Unit stress on gross section|           |            |
  (ex girder’s weight)        | 2·14 tons | _5·0 tons_ |_5·0 tons_
  Total deflection (ex        |           |            |
  girder’s weight)            |  ·55 in.  |  ·55 in.   |1·28 in.
  Deflection excess (_s_)     |   _nil_   |   _nil_    | ·73  „
  Depression, or “drop” of    |           |            |
  adjustment (_d{t}_)         |   _nil_   |   _nil_    | ·482 „
  Gross area of flange        |105 sq. in.|19·2 sq. in.|44·5 sq. in.
  Weight                      |  20 tons  |  10·4 tons |11·4 tons
  Net flange stress (including|           |            |
  girder’s weight)            | 3·19 tons |  6·87 tons | 6·94 tons

Girders subject to distributed load are treated as having uniform
stress, but where this is not strictly the case, as in some light
girders, it will be necessary to take the fact into account. For centre
girders of wrought iron, and a unit stress on the gross section of 4
instead of 5 tons, the girder weights are between 9 and 10 per cent.

[Illustration: FIG. 74.]

In the above treatment of the application of centre strengthening
girders there is a source of error which should be touched upon. If,
under live load, the centre girder deflects more than the outer girders,
as it commonly will, there must be a want of uniformity in the behaviour
of the cross-girders, those near the abutments being more relieved than
the estimated amount of relief of those at the centre, which will have
less than that intended; but the reduction of stress in the
cross-girders will generally be so considerable that any such ambiguity
of excess or defect is commonly unimportant; the effect of this also
upon the main girders is much less than might be supposed, being, for
the third of the cases just given, about 2-1/2 per cent. excess for the
centre girder, and generally a much smaller error. With this
qualification, the method can, however, be regarded as approximate only.
It is possible to eliminate some part of the error by lifting the end
cross-girders during adjustment, a less amount than that given by the
diagrams, Figs. 73 and 74, taking care that the centre girder is
depressed its full amount by lifting the centre cross-girders a little
more; this refinement is hardly necessary, and unless controlled by
calculation cannot be depended upon for precise results.

Particulars are here given of five ordinary cases, comparing the
calculated and observed results of adjustment. The operation of
levelling was conducted by a quick-eyed and capable assistant, who was
not made acquainted with the results expected, in order to avoid any
sub-conscious tendency to match the calculated figures:--


                    --                   |Calculated.|    Observed.
                                         |   in.     |    in.
                                         |           |
                          No. 1.--56-_Ft. Span._
                                         |           |
  Depression of centre girder            |   ·82     |    ·84
  Lift of cross-girders at centre        |   ·23     |    ·22
  Lift of outer girders                  |   ·20     |·10 and ·13
                                         |           |
                          No. 2.--57-_Ft. Span._
                                         |           |
  Depression of centre girder            |   ·50     |    ·50
  Lift of cross-girders at centre        |   ·18     |    ·20
  Lift of outer girders                  |   ·11     |·08 and ·10
                                         |           |
                          No. 3.--67-_Ft. Span._
                                         |           |
  Depression of centre girder            |   ·70     |    ·75
  Lift of cross-girders at centre        |   ·15     |    ·17
  Lift of outer girders                  |   ·10     |    ·09
                                         |           |
                          No. 4.--68-_Ft. Span._
                                         |           |
  Depression of centre girder            |   ·70     |    ·65
  Lift of cross-girders at centre        |   ·20     |    ·18
  Lift of outer girders                  |   ·13     |    ·14
                                         |           |
            No. 5.--52-_Ft. and_ 28-_Ft. Spans continuous._
                                         |           |
                                         |Long |Short|Long |Short
                                         | in. | in. | in. | in.
  Depression of centre girder            | ·28 | ..  | ·29 | ..
  Lift of centre girder                  | ..  | ·04 | ..  | ·03
  Lift of cross-girders (centre of spans)| ·17 | ·09 | ·15 | ·13
  Lift of outer girders                  | ·08 | ..  | ·08 | ..
  Depression of outer girder             | ..  | ·01 | ..  |negligible.

The method of calculation adopted for these cases was not precisely that
given, though depending upon the same broad principles. The first cannot
be considered a good example. The last, having continuous girders, of
course needed special treatment.

Of about seventeen bridges strengthened in the manner described, the
effect generally was satisfactory, in reducing deflection and vibration;
but in two cases of small span, owing probably to settlement of
bedstones, the results were not so good.

From first to last the work of putting in a centre girder takes some
little time, owing to the slow progress generally made in fixing the
brackets, preparing packings, etc. The cost of a typical case was about
23 per cent. of the cost of a new superstructure, with a 30 per cent.
relief of stress.

[Illustration: FIG. 75.]

[Illustration: FIG. 76.]

A special case of strengthening by a centre girder, having considerable
interest, may be here referred to. The primary idea involved was not the
author’s. The bridge dealt with has already been noticed under “Bracing”
and a section, before alteration, shown in Fig. 26. The span being 85
feet, there was no room for a centre girder of sufficient depth above
the cross-girders and between the roads, nor was it considered
economical to place the girder wholly below the floor, because of the
costly staging this would have necessitated for erection purposes, the
height above ground level being very great. A girder was therefore
designed, having open latticing at an angle of 60 degrees, with a bottom
boom to be below the cross-girders, the top being as high above the
rails as could be permitted (see Figs. 75 and 76). A temporary boom was
arranged at the intersection of diagonals, the lower boom proper not
being fixed till the girder having been lifted into place, with the
diagonal members passing between the cross-girders, allowed this to be
done. The girder for some time carried itself from bearing to bearing,
with the temporary boom in tension, the deflection being then 2 inches.
The permanent boom was then put in place, and the girder restored as
nearly as was practicable to the camber it was intended to have when
complete, but without throwing, during the process, any improper loads
upon the old work.

The lower boom being finally riveted up, the cross-girders were made to
bear upon it by suitable packings. There were, in addition to the new
girder, two stiff frames between the old main girders, to which the new
was secured.

The girder was designed with the intention that under dead load only the
cross-girders should just rest, but throw no weight, upon the new work,
the latter assisting to carry live load only. The floor beams being of
small span, and securely riveted to the old girder tops, the centre
girder was required to deflect, under its share of live load, the same
amount as the old main girders under the remaining portion, the three
points of support of the cross-girders thus not altering their relative
levels. That this resulted was evident from the fact that, previous to
connecting the cross-frames to the centre-girder, the work being
otherwise complete, a space between the two of about 1/2 inch,
afterwards filled by a packing, showed no alteration, the closest
measurement failing to disclose any relative movement upon the passage
of live load. The reduction of vibration was, as might be expected, very

In the conduct of that class of strengthening work which has been dealt
with in this chapter, it is essential, in the author’s judgment, that
the man responsible for the detailed calculations and design should
himself see the operations of adjustment carried out, or delegate it
only to one equally familiar with the requirements.

Before dismissing the subject, it will be well to refer to a method of
approximately determining flexure curves, of occasional use in dealing
with centre girder or similar questions. The figure assumed is plotted
to an exaggerated scale, with which object the actual radius of
curvature at points along the girder’s length are first ascertained by
the formula

   E × D
  ------- = R, radius of curvature in feet,
  _f_ × 2

and the radius of curvature for the diagram by

  12 × R × F^2 = _r_, radius for plotting, in inches (5)

E being the modulus of elasticity, D the girder’s depth in feet, _f_ the
mean of the extreme flange stresses per square inch of gross area, and F
the fraction indicating scale as 1/48, where 1/4 inch = 1 foot. The
curve, being plotted, shows by direct scaling the movement of any point
relative to its original position. Near the ends of the curve where the
radii may be of considerable length, the arcs may be drawn with the help
of template curves, or even set out as pieces of “straight.”

When the curve is laid down so that its chord equals the span to scale,
the method involves an error of excess in the resulting deflection or
droop which is as much as 7 per cent. when the mean radius for plotting
equals the span as drawn, or when the droop of curve approaches
one-eighth of the span. As the exaggeration of curvature is made less
pronounced, this error rapidly diminishes, till for a droop of about
one-sixteenth the percentage is one-fourth part of that above given.
This excess in the droop of curve may be amended by the following

          (droop^3       )
  droop - (------- × 3·73) = corrected droop, or deflection.
          (chord^2       )

For some purposes it may be preferable to amend the radii for plotting,
so that the curve, as laid down, shall be correct, which may be
effected by the formula here given, to be applied to each value of r, as
first ascertained:--

        (chord^2        )
  _r_ + (------- × ·0625) = corrected plotting radius.
        (  _r_          )

If, however, the length of curve is made equal to the span (the chord
then being less), and the radii for plotting as given by (5) are used,
the result will for most purposes be sufficiently precise, though there
will now be an error of a contrary kind, which, for a curve having a
droop of one-eighth, will be about 2 per cent. too little. A somewhat
similar method of setting out deflection curves is described by
Professor Fleeming Jenkin in the article “Bridges” of the “Encyclopædia
Britannica,” but without corrections.

A careful comparison of results by the above means, with those
calculated, shows that with good draughtsmanship they may be relied upon
for considerable accuracy. Equally applicable to girders of varying
depth and flange stress, they have also a limited use in cases of

[Illustration: FIGS. 77 and 78.]

Figs. 77 and 78 illustrate the deflection and stress diagrams for the
cross-girders of the bridge supposed to have been strengthened by a
centre-girder, when under the influence of live load and a centre
reaction of a definite amount. As a matter of convenience, each radius
length has been halved, before correction, so that the resulting droop
of the curve is twice the true amount.



Cast Iron as a material for bridges has of late years fallen into
disrepute. It is now entirely tabooed by the Board of Trade for railway
under-bridges, unless of arched construction. This condemnation of cast
iron followed, and was apparently the result of, an accident which
occurred to an under-bridge on one of the southern lines, which bridge
had already earned for itself an ill repute by breaking down on a
previous occasion. The ultimate issue was, however, good, inasmuch as it
led to a thorough overhaul of all railway under-bridges in this country,
and the renewal of a great number no longer in a condition suited to the
carriage of heavy or of passenger traffic; yet there is little doubt
that, in the author’s judgment, many excellent cast-iron bridges were
then removed at considerable cost, to be replaced by others of wrought
iron or steel, which will not last so long as many of those displaced
had done, or would still have lasted had they not been dismantled.

The earlier cast-iron bridges were commonly made of cold-blast iron, a
material of such strength and toughness as to give an extraordinary
amount of trouble in breaking up the heavier parts, when the time
arrived to do this, and with which material ordinary hot-blast iron is
not to be compared for reliability.

[Illustration: FIG. 79.]

As illustrating the very considerable stress to which cast iron may be
subjected, without of necessity leading to any mishap, two cases may be
cited. The first, a bridge of 32 feet effective span, carrying two
lines of way, each pair of rails being supported upon Barlow rails,
forming the bridge floor, the ends resting upon the bottom flanges of
inverted [T]-shaped girders, 2 feet 3 inches deep, as shown in Fig. 79.

The extreme fibre stress works out at 2·9 tons per square inch in
tension, and 5·9 tons per square inch compression, calculated as it
would be in ordinary office work; but for the actual loads, at a span as
above, exceeding the clear span by 6 inches only, and without regard to
the effects of eccentric application of the load. The girders when taken
out showed upon examination no sign of overstrain. The practice of
loading cast-iron girders in this manner cannot, however, be too
strongly condemned, notwithstanding that in this case no ill resulted.
It is evident that a piece of the lower flange being broken out from
this cause, as occasionally happens, might so reduce the section as to
result in complete failure.

[Illustration: FIGS. 80 and 81.]

The second example is that of a small railway under-bridge of two spans,
continuous over the central pier, each span being 16 feet 6 inches. The
rails were supported upon longitudinal timbers lying within
trough-shaped girders, as shown in Figs 80 and 81.

The stress over the pier, in the extreme fibres of the top flange, is
estimated at 4·7 tons per square inch in tension, but it should be noted
that the effect of the timber longitudinal and rail has been neglected
in arriving at this result, which might possibly on this account be
reduced to near 3 tons per square inch.

The case is noticeable because no evidence of high stress was apparent.
The author saw nothing to suggest sinking of the central pier, the
effect of which, within limits, would be to further reduce the stress as
calculated; but it is quite possible some slight settlement had
occurred; this, as the spans were so small, would have a sensible
effect. While too much reliance should not, it is clear, be placed upon
any estimated result about which there is a lingering doubt, it should
be remarked that, as it would be necessary the pier should sink 3/16 of
an inch, for each ton of reduced stress, it is not probable that the
results quoted are in excess to any material degree; they are, indeed,
more probably low, as no notice has been taken of impact.

Though cast-iron girders for railway under-bridges are now prohibited in
this country for new works, there are still uses to which they may be
applied, and it may be well to insist that girders of this material
should be fairly loaded, the weight being brought upon them in such a
way that there shall be no serious secondary stress, such as arises when
wide flanges are made to carry concentrated loads; the author has,
indeed, met with no instance of a cast-iron girder breaking down under a
load fairly applied. Preference is now given to steel or wrought iron
for columns; while this is often quite justifiable, there remain many
cases in which nothing better need be desired for this purpose than good
cast iron, provided only that the column be loaded in a suitable
manner--i.e., axially, and that the arrangement and details of the
super-structure are such that there shall be no cross-breaking efforts,
or rocking of the column due to temperature or other causes; unless,
indeed, such cross-breaking or rocking is definitely taken into account
in designing the work. The same care observed in the detailing of
cast-iron work that is not infrequently taken in the design of
structures made of rolled sections would, in suitable cases, the author
has no doubt, yield results just as reliable in practice, with the
advantage of greater resistance to rust, and a reduced cost in

Good cast iron is, in fact, when used with discretion, a most excellent
material, popular predjudice notwithstanding. The oldest metallic bridge
in this country at the present moment is of that metal.

The one chief respect in which cast iron is at a disadvantage compared
with wrought iron or steel is that it does not give premonitory warning
of failure--it remains intact, or it breaks. The indications of
weakness, which may be read by an experienced inspector of other
metallic bridges, are in a great measure absent. There is also an
objection which may exist, but is to be avoided by good design and care
in the foundry--viz., internal stress due to unequal cooling. In extreme
cases this may lead to fracture before the work has left the maker’s
hands, but it can only occur by neglect of ordinary precautions.

[Illustration: FIGS. 82 and 83.]

In a case which has already been referred to in the chapter on
“Deformations,” page 80, an outer rib of a cast-iron arch fractured near
the crown after fifty-four years’ use. Owing to the nature of the
design, and the fact that the near abutment had closed in slightly,
bringing the linear arch of necessity near the lower edges of the arch
segment in question, it was possible to estimate, with a probability of
truth, the extreme fibre stress (tensile) due to the load forces, at the
upper edge where fracture commenced. The result was very far from
explaining the occurrence of the break, but an examination of the
details shown in Figs. 82 and 83 will make it apparent that, in addition
to the tensile stress, as calculated, there was probably a severe
initial stress of the same character due to irregular cooling in the
foundry half a century before. The sum of these stresses, it is
suggested, placed this particular casting in a critical condition, such
that operations in the construction of a new bridge adjacent either by
producing a small further settlement of the foundations, of which the
author saw no evidence, or, as is more probable, the attachment of a
rope to this rib for the purpose of keeping a barge in position, which
certainly did occur, gave the arch rib just such an additional strain as
to result in the break shown, though no one of these causes acting
singly would have been sufficient to induce fracture. The inner ribs
were of a much less objectionable section.

[Illustration: FIG. 84.]

Cast-iron arches, though still allowed by the Board of Trade rules, are,
indeed, liable to be seriously affected by settlement, or yielding of
the abutments, unless hinges at the crown are introduced. As an instance
of this may be quoted a bridge of some 45 feet span, in which the arches
were cast in two pieces abutting, and very efficiently bolted together
at the crown, the springing and vertical abutment member of the
spandrel being bolted and built solidly into heavy masonry. The arch
sank at the crown, caused by, or itself the cause of, a movement of the
abutment, with the result that the lower bolts at the crown joint broke
away, rupturing the casting, as shown in Fig. 84. The arch must then
have acted as though hinged at the crown, as effectiveness of the
connection was destroyed. It had been better, evidently, if a proper
hinge had originally been provided. The break happened to occur so as to
leave a sufficiently good bearing face at the crown; there was, indeed,
no tendency for one surface to slide upon another; but in the accidental
fracture of cast iron this cannot be assured, and the liability to it is
a risk which should be eliminated if possible.

A second case of very much the same character has also been under the
author’s observation, though in this the ends of the spandrels were not
built into the brickwork of which the abutments were composed. Other
instances of fracture either in the arch proper or in the spandrel work,
have come under notice, though particulars cannot now be adduced; but
the examples cited are by themselves sufficient to justify the
conclusion that it is imprudent to construct a cast-iron arch without a
central pin or its equivalent, unless the abutments, being exceptionally
well founded, may be relied upon as free from any liability to move. It
is, however, to be borne in mind that movement in the abutments of a
small arch of any given absolute amount is more injurious than the same
amount of movement in the abutments of large arches of similar design,
so that what may be negligible in the latter case would perhaps be
destructive in the former.

To the absence of ductility and liability to initial stress must be
added yet another disadvantage to which cast-iron work is prone--viz.,
the possibility of concealed defects, blow-holes or cold-shuts; these in
good foundry practice are not very likely to occur, but, as they are
possible, cannot be overlooked in considering the suitability of cast
iron for bridgework, or, indeed, any structural work liable to serious
stress, and particularly tensile stress. With these remarks by way of
qualification, the author reiterates his opinion that there is still a
use for cast iron in bridgework.

With respect to the repair of cast-iron bridges, but little is to be
said; the possibilities in this direction are very limited. Occasionally
it may be desired to deal with the fracture of some member in the
spandrel bracing of an arch, when it is commonly sufficient, and even
preferable, to limit the repair work to confining the fractured parts in
such a way as to prevent displacement.

Rarely it may happen that an arch fractures as a result of settlement,
or other movement, when, if it is decided that safety of the structure
is not imperilled, it will in this case also be preferable to confine
the parts simply by flitch-plates or other contrivance, with no attempt
rigidly to make good the break, the consequences of which treatment
would probably be to induce fracture in some other place. Effective
strengthening of a cast-iron structure is seldom practicable, though
something may occasionally be done by the negative process of lightening
the dead load, or by remodelling the permanent way. Arches may, however,
be rendered much more reliable by the introduction of suitable bracing
where this is either wanting or inefficient.

In scheming such additions it is desirable to arrange for as little
drilling of the old work as is possible; where this cannot be altogether
avoided, the position of the holes should be carefully chosen with
regard to the effect they may have upon the strength of the old work.



Timber bridges, though probably the most ancient in type, are yet the
least durable in any particular instance. The perishable nature of the
material when used for exposed construction renders it peculiarly liable
to develop defects which quickly put a limit to the life of the
structure. In addition to decay in the body of the main members--which
may perhaps be long delayed, so that a simple beam bridge may last for
many years--there is in more complex designs decay at connections and
joints, which proves very detrimental to the integrity of the whole.
Water running upon the surface of a member gravitates to its lower end,
and, if there be a joint or other connection, settles there, to be
productive of lasting mischief. From this cause, together with a very
common deficiency of bearing surface relative to the forces to be met,
the joints soon develop some movement; working of the structure
commences under passing loads, its final destruction being then a
question of time only. Each joint is, in fact, in timber bridge
construction a source of serious weakness to a degree which has no
parallel in well-designed metallic bridges.

Wrought-iron straps to confine the ends of raking members, or for other
uses, are liable to crush into the wood, and bolts are apt to enlarge
the hole through which they pass. Wood keys, where these are introduced
to prevent one timber from sliding upon another, are also prone to
develop cracks in the main members, and fibre crippling from excess of
stress. All these defects are, however, in timber-work more easily
defined than efficiently remedied, as it is barely practicable for any
but the harder woods to ensure, for heavy loads, a sufficiency of
bearing surfaces.

The most readily detected evidence of deterioration in timber bridges is
the sag of its bearing members, or trusses, for the simple reason that
if there is no local trouble at the joints, there will probably be no
appreciable drop at the centre of the span. The existence of such a
depression may, however, be caused in rare instances by the spread of
the supporting piers or abutments, particularly in the case of beams
trussed by end diagonal rakers and having no tie.

Bridges formed of deep trusses, with the road upon the top, are
sometimes found to be wanting in lateral bracing, the result of which is
that the main trusses go out of line, leaning considerably one way or
the other, being checked only by such rigidity as the joints and
floor-beam attachments may have, with possibly some assistance from the
end connections of the span.

The decay of piles where entering the ground or water is, of course, a
fruitful source of trouble, as also is the sinking of piles, where these
are insufficient in number, or have not been well driven in the first

A vital difficulty with timber structures generally is the uncertainty
that will commonly exist as to how far decay extends in those cases
where it has started. Timber does not necessarily show upon its surface
the evidences of internal rotting. Memel timber may, indeed, be
sometimes found to have become thoroughly unreliable, yet showing no
sign of this upon its painted surface. By sounding the wood with a
hammer, or by probing, its condition may commonly be ascertained. In
cases of doubt, an auger-hole will make it clear as to whether the
interior be good or otherwise, as to the particular parts tested; but
only as to those parts, leaving it a matter of guesswork as to the

[Illustration: FIG. 85.]

A railway bridge having many of the defects which have been indicated
may be quoted as an example. This structure crossed a canal, supported
upon piles, some of which were in water, others carrying land spans. The
canal span consisted of four trusses, one under each rail, or nearly so,
framed in the manner shown in Fig. 85, precise details not, however,
being now available. The trusses, apart from deflection under live load,
sagged considerably--in one instance, 4-1/2 inches; one inside truss was
also leaning towards the centre line of the bridge as much as 3 inches.
One raker, or diagonal strut, was rotted half through its thickness, and
many other timbers were badly decayed. The end connections and joints
were also in a bad condition. The vertical tie-bolts of the main trusses
were all slack. The piles generally, many of which were badly decayed,
had sunk and inclined towards one end of the bridge about 4 inches in 7
feet of height, the ground being soft and unreliable.

Movement under a passenger train crawling over the bridge was very
appreciable, but not startling. There had been introduced, from time to
time, additional timbers and iron ties, with the object of rendering the
spans more reliable, but leaving it somewhat difficult to determine the
function of the several members. The bridge was, of course,

[Illustration: FIG. 86.]

[Illustration: FIG. 87.]

[Illustration: FIG. 88.]

An instance may here be cited showing how badly distorted a timber
structure may become without actually falling. The bridge referred to
consisted of three spans of 29 feet, each span having two trusses,
between which ran a colliery tramroad, 1-foot 6-inch gauge; the corves
running upon this, at 4 feet 6 inch centres, weighed, when full, about
10 cwt. each. The trusses were badly out of shape, the centre span
having sagged 5-1/2 inches, with one truss of the same span nearly 10
inches out of line at the centre. This little bridge, of which some
details are shown in Figs. 86, 87, and 88, had been in use about twenty

[Illustration: FIG. 89.]

A third case which may be named is that of a road bridge, about 12 feet
wide, crossing by thirteen spans a shallow river liable to floods. The
construction was of a simple character, as indicated in Fig. 89, and
consisted of piles supporting trussed beams, which had sagged in some
instances over 2-1/2 inches. The bridge had, some years previous to the
author’s inspection, been heavily repaired, many new strut and
stretching pieces having been introduced, the piles also being
reinforced or renewed. Five years before, a traction engine, said to
weigh 5 tons, had passed across the bridge in safety; but the author
noticed that a coal wagon, which, with the horse, weighed about 50 cwt.,
when walked slowly over set up much movement. This bridge had been in
use nearly thirty years, and was very much out of line from end to end.

Though timber bridges cannot at the best be considered durable, yet, by
attention to certain points in design and construction, their length of
life may be materially enhanced. Every cut across the grain may be
considered an element of weakness by exposing the material to quicker
decay, for which reason the number of ends, or of joints, should be
reduced to a minimum. An additional reason for reducing the number of
joints or other connections is the liability of these to develop
movement, as already stated, the yield of any one joint, being the cause
of movement in others, which might, but for this, have remained close.
These considerations lead to the conclusion that fewness of parts is, in
timber construction, as in structural work generally, an excellent
principle to observe. Mortising, elaborate scarf joints, recessing, or
any cutting into the timber which is not essential, should be avoided,
the simplest forms of connection being preferable, if at all suitable.
If a step or butt surface is wanted for any member, it is commonly
better to provide this by a cleat or other added piece, rather than by
cutting into the timber butted against.

A complicated joint formed in the body of main timbers can only be
renewed by renewal of the timber itself, whereas by the method indicated
the joint is readily tightened, or re-made, without involving the main
member. Bearing surfaces should be ample, straps of liberal dimensions,
and bolts large (with good washers), both for the sake of bearing
surface in the holes, and reduction of any liability to bend under
cross-stress. In trusses of the form shown in Figs. 85 and 86, it is
desirable to introduce diagonal members in the middle bay, even though
it may appear that the stiffness of the main beams is sufficient to
render this unnecessary as a matter of strength, as without these there
is apt to be, under rolling load, a slight distortion, leading to
working of the joints and free entry of moisture. Lateral bracings
should also, for much the same reasons, be introduced, even though they
may not appear necessary in the new structure, with joints all close and

Projecting ends of timbers should be carried out well beyond the
requirement of strength or bearing, in order to ensure a liberal margin
for that decay in the end fibres which commonly develops. Timbers
resting upon abutments, or running into confined spaces, should be
arranged for free ventilation and ready drying. Occasionally joints at
the lower ends of timbers are protected by lead or zinc flashings to
prevent water running into them, a method which should have some
protective value. Whatever measures may be adopted, whether in the
design or execution of timber bridge-work, will, however, be but little
effective, if the timber itself is not good of its kind, and well

Creosoting to be useful should be thorough and something more than skin
deep. The timber itself should be well dried before treatment.

The repair of timber bridges very largely consists in the renewal of
decaying timbers, where this is practicable, or in adding supplementary
pieces where the old cannot conveniently be displaced. Joints may be
tightened up by hard-wood wedges, properly secured to prevent slacking
back, all bolts being also screwed up tight, perhaps some additional
being introduced.

Piles standing in water, which have decayed, may be strengthened by
driving other piles between the old, or on either side, but not of
necessity opposite to them, and by means of waling timbers bolted to the
old piles, put in a position to take load, either by the walings resting
upon their tops, or being bolted to them. Piles decayed where entering
solid ground may generally be strengthened by bolting on supplementary
timbers to reach well above and below the decayed part, or by cutting
out the bad length, introducing a new piece, and fishing the butt-joints
in a proper manner. But all remedial measures have generally to be
considered with reference to cost, as compared with the probable
increase of life of the structure. With a bridge in an advanced state of
decrepitude, such repairs may prove anything but economical, and at the
best defer reconstruction but a very moderate length of time.



Masonry bridges, in which description it is intended to include
structures both in stone and brick, are, when well built, amongst the
most durable and long-suffering of any which come under the care of a
maintenance engineer; yet when developing the faults peculiar to their
kind, they may be the occasion of much anxiety, and render necessary
frequent inspection, or even continuous watching.

Apart from decay of mortar or material, defects may very commonly be
traced to the foundations, or to earth-slips. Sinking, when uniform, may
be quite harmless, though possibly inconvenient; irregular sinking of
piers or abutments is quite a different matter. It is, however,
remarkable to what a degree sinking may be evident, without of necessity
rendering a structure unsafe. Movement of an amount and kind which would
be fatal to the connections of metallic bridgework is endured by bridges
of stone or brick; not, it may be, without damage, yet with no occasion
for alarm. The superstructure of metallic bridges may often, however, be
restored to the true level before the mischief has become serious,
whereas in the case of masonry arches this is not practicable.

Spreading of the abutments is very seldom the cause of any great injury
to an arch, though it is common enough to find old and flat arches
slightly down at the crown; but the contrary case of abutments closing
in is not very unusual when these are high, or terminate a viaduct over
a deep valley. Such an abutment may move during or soon after
construction, throwing up the crown of the end span affected; or, if the
arches are very solid and heavy, the abutment may slide forward at the
base, with no sensible reduction of the opening.

When a viaduct connects the two ends of a high embankment, it may happen
that the end piers are not clear of the embankment slope, in which event
a pier may, should the bank slip, move with it, as to that part not in
solid ground; with the result, in a bad case, that it is broken across
and the superstructure imperilled.

[Illustration: FIG. 90.]

A case of abutment movement is illustrated in Fig. 90, which represents
the end arch of a masonry viaduct, one abutment of which had moved
forward in the manner already referred to. From the springing upwards
the arch retained its form to within a short distance of the crown,
where it was forced up in the way indicated. When the movement became
pronounced, heavy timber centering was introduced, with the object of
preventing any mishap, the damaged portions being ultimately cut out and
made good. The structure was thirty-five years old.

The practical utility of stop piers in long arched viaducts is, perhaps,
rather in checking movement of the tops of piers under moving load than
in arresting actual failure of a series of arches. That the tops of
piers do move very sensibly need not be doubted. The author has
attempted to measure this in the case of piers about 60 feet to the
springing, by means of a theodolite placed below, but has reached no
more definite result than that a movement existed, of which he was not
able to determine the amount. If in a viaduct some arches are more
heavily loaded than others, each spreading slightly, the end piers of
the group will move amounts which together equal the sum of the
individual span spreads, with a tendency in the arches beyond those of
the group overloaded to rise.

This rocking may be detrimental both to the piers and arches, and helps
to account for the disintegration of mortar in arches and piers, which
not infrequently happens. The soffits will sometimes be seen with a
thick incrustation of lime, which has washed out of the joints, or from
limestone ballast above, where this has been in use. Arches of tall
viaducts may, indeed, become in so bad a condition that pieces of stone
or brick will drop out, necessitating repair at heavy expense, of which
scaffolding is commonly a large part.

Tall piers may be found badly out of the upright due to sinking of
foundations. A marked case of this kind came under the author’s
notice--a viaduct of fifteen semicircular arches, in which, though many
piers were wanting in truth, one in particular was about 1 foot 4 inches
out of vertical, making one side of the shaft plumb, and doubling the
normal batter of the other. Inquiry showed that in this instance the
pier had never been upright from its earliest history dating back
thirty-six years. This makes clear the desirability, to avoid hasty
conclusions, of ascertaining, when it is possible to do so, the complete
record of any structure.

A bridge fifty-eight years old, of three skew spans, carrying a railway
over a canal, and having somewhat flat brick arches with stone quoins
upon low piers, developed the somewhat unusual defect, as to the centre
arch, of splitting along its length for about 10 feet, parallel to and
some 7 feet from one face. In this case there was reason to believe that
there had been considerable local settlement of the piers on that side
of the bridge. The arches were otherwise in bad condition, the brickwork
poor, and the mortar decayed. Each arch was down at the centre, and
displayed a fault not unusual where bad brickwork joins up to good cut
stonework, the quoins showing a tendency to separate from the brick
rings. Below the bridge were coal-workings.

Brick arches built in parallel rings sometimes separate one ring from
the other, demonstrating the known propriety of bonding the rings
together properly, and of carrying the arch round, when building, at its
full thickness.

[Illustration: FIG. 91.]

An instance of bridge failure from a somewhat peculiar cause may be
quoted as of some interest, largely because the structure was very
ancient, having been in existence some 400 years. This bridge, carrying
a road, was of the type usual in old masonry bridges over a river,
having small arches, thick piers, and solid backings to the arches. Two
flood-openings at one end had, by sinking and want of care, become
partly closed. The centre arch had, however, been widened about 140
years previously. During a severe flood, the swollen river, overflowing
its banks, trespassed upon a timber yard a little above bridge, and
washed down into the stream a large quantity of sawn timber; this,
unable to get through the main arch with freedom, compacted into a
serious obstruction. The flood water, thus checked in its passage, seems
to have scoured below the timber, and robbed the piers of such support
as they formerly had (see Fig. 91). The bridge stood in this condition
till the water lowered, when the middle part of the structure broke up,
and subsided into the hole which had been washed out. But for the
monolithic character of the old work it is probable the bridge would
have failed long before, as the gravel bed on which the piers stood had
been partly undermined for very many years. The case is instructive, as
showing how a slight accident--powerless by itself to work mischief--may
be very damaging when allied with so powerful an agent as running water.

[Illustration: FIG. 92.]

The enduring character of even the roughest class of masonry arch, if
only the material be good and abutments stable, is shown when it becomes
necessary to destroy old work of this character. Fig. 92 represents a
short length of “cut and cover” arching in process of demolition, just
before it fell in. The masonry was of hard sandstone rubble and had been
cut away, as shown, till at the point A only a very small piece of the
arch remained, when the length finally broke up and dropped. Arches have
commonly a great reserve of strength; tunnel linings are, indeed, often
badly out of shape, closed in, and sunken; yet continue, with close
watching, and occasional repairs where the work has decayed or bulged,
to serve the purpose intended.

Though the equilibrium of masonry arches has been the occasion of much
profound study, and the nicest calculation has sometimes been applied to
the design of such work, yet it appears that when an arch is well backed
up, the theoretical linear arch need have but little connection with the
figure of the intrados; a statement consonant both with common-sense and
the teachings of experience. With solid backing, this would indeed seem
to be more important than any part of the arch ring below the top of the
backing, the lower part of the ring serving chiefly to preserve the face
of the solid work. Arches are frequently to be met with so out of their
true shape that but for the consideration named, failure would seem to
be inevitable. The masonry or brickwork does not always show evidence of
damage, if the distortion has been slow; suggesting that structures of
this kind have a power of accommodation with which they are not
generally credited.

A noticeable cause of deterioration of masonry structures, which may be
quite independent of settlement, is serious vibration. This is well
known in connection with church belfries, and is also locally apparent
when telegraph or other poles are attached to masonry parapets.
Vibration, when caused by heavy railway traffic, acting upon arches
light or originally bad, may demoralise the structure to such an extent
that repair becomes exceedingly difficult, because of the extensive
character of the mischief; but masonry bridges substantially built, and
particularly those carrying ordinary roads, and not subject to much
vibration, have great lasting powers, if repaired with skill, or even
let alone. Distortion of the arch may be quite consistent with practical
stability, if the movement or decay with which it originated is not
progressive, or has been arrested. In this connection a distinction is
to be made between arches well backed, to which the foregoing remarks
apply, and in which the two halves of each arch may act as separate
monoliths meeting at the crown, and the case of a true arch ring
independent of any outside resistance, such as backing or spandrels may
give, and depending almost wholly upon the proper balance of its
component voussoirs for its stability. With the latter class of
structure no liberties may be taken; whilst with the former there is
seldom cause for fear, if the foundations do not give way, and the work
is dealt with judiciously, if at all. It must, however, be understood
that there are limits as to what may be done effectively, short of
rebuilding, in dealing with structures in which, perhaps, brickwork is
rotten and mortar decayed and crumbling, the whole being little better
than a broken mass of rubbish.

In cases where it may be prudent to introduce safety centring, as in an
instance already referred to, it is commonly expedient to refrain from
causing this to take any sensible part of the load till all movement has
ceased, the centres being at the outset largely precautionary. The
requirement with an arch in bad condition is to avoid disturbing it for
the worse. If the centres are wedged up whilst movement is still going
on, the effect may be to cause the arch to break up upon the centring,
and precipitate repair work which might otherwise have been left to a
more convenient time, when all movement had stopped or been checked by
suitable measures. Viaduct arches in a bad condition, but not
necessitating the use of relief centres, are commonly dealt with
piecemeal by cutting out the bad places, a small part at a time, and
making good. The work requires the greatest care of experienced men.

Pointing masonry or brickwork is effective for little other than
protective purposes, and to check further weathering; it has obviously
no effect upon the interior work, and if made to cover up the evidences
of internal decay, is even misleading and objectionable. In extreme
cases it may be desirable to open out the road and deal with the
filling, to relieve or to strengthen the outer spandrel walls, which
sometimes bulge, or for other purposes, as, for example, for rebuilding
inner spandrel walls, grouting up or otherwise repairing solid backing,
in which operations some regard must be had to the effect of the work
upon the balance of the opposing halves of the arch.

Of the different classes of masonry commonly used in bridgework, it may
be well to remark that good coursed rubble, or preferably that variety
bonding both vertically and horizontally, of a durable stone, perhaps
quite unfit for any but rough dressing, may make a most lasting
structure, the mortar, of course, being good. Each rough-dressed stone
presents a durable piece, fragments removed separate from the block,
probably along some line of relative weakness--there is no “nursing” of
weak corners; whereas with stones reduced to a perfectly regular shape
by chisel work, the plane surfaces and geometrical angles are made with
partial regard only to the natural grain of the stone.



The life of bridges of differing materials has been incidentally touched
upon by the examples quoted, in dealing with each class of structure. It
will be useful to recapitulate some of the facts adduced, and to compare
the terms of life so far as they appear to be indicated; but in doing
this it is necessary to remember that the life of a bridge of any one
material is inseparably connected with its own private history. The
duration of any such structure may be limited by adverse conditions,
peculiar to the case considered, by defects of design, material, or
workmanship--present from the first--or by neglect, overloading, or
accident, making up its later record.

With the exception of timber structures, it is difficult to find any
class of bridges furnishing examples which have reached the limit of
life, independently of the evils named, and as a result of unavoidable
decrepitude. There are none the less influences at work tending to this
condition, and which it is too much to expect can in all cases be
foreseen or completely guarded against, such as the shifting or scouring
of river-beds, settlement of foundations, natural decay, and minor
faults in design, which even in the most capable hands may be expected
ever to fall short of perfection. At the best, then, the life of any
structure, though long, must have a limit. With bridges of more average
or inferior qualities the life may be positively short, even without the
destructive influence of overloading.

Dealing with instances of metallic bridges, the adjacent table gives the
time each had been in existence when removed, and some indication of the
reason for its condemnation. Those marked with an asterisk were cases of
pronounced high stress. From a study of the table it appears that in
actual practice, making no excuses of any sort, the length of life of
the wrought-iron bridges specified varied between twelve and thirty-six
years; but these figures applied to this collection of cases only. It is
to be remarked that many other bridges outlasted these, and are likely
to continue reliable. These results show, then, no more than that some
wrought-iron bridges are short-lived, having, in fact, been selected as
examples of this. Longer-lived exceptions are useful, as indicating that
the durability of such structures is by no means so limited as the table
would suggest. It is to be observed that, as design and maintenance are
now better and more generally understood than when experience was
largely wanting, it is to be expected that later examples will show no
such poor results.

Of steel bridges little can be said, because of the limited time this
material has been in use; but the generally acknowledged belief, quite
in agreement with the author’s observation, that steel rusts more freely
than wrought iron, suggests that such bridges will have a shorter lease
of life, the more so that the surface-to-section ratio is also greater
for higher unit stresses, though other adverse influences are much the
same for one material as for the other.

Of cast-iron structures but few cases have been given; of these,
cast-iron arches have been noticed as developing defects which led to
reconstruction, or to limiting the loads to be carried. Plain cast-iron
girders, on the other hand, have never, under the author’s direct
observation, been removed for any other reason than because they were
cast iron, or from over-stress, due to the growth of loads; never from
defects or wasting, though it is not suggested no such cases exist. The
author has no evidence which points to what may be the limit of life of
a good cast-iron girder fairly treated.

_Examples of Life of Metallic Bridges._

        Description.       | Span. | Age. |   Defect.      | Reference.
                           |ft. in.|Years.|                |
                           |       |      |                |
                                _Wrought Iron._
                           |       |      |                |
  Plate girders            |  (?)  |  12  |Loose rivets    |
    *Ditto                 | 35  0 |  12  |Ditto           |p. 52
     Ditto                 | 55  0 |  14  |Rust. Distortion|pp. 78 & 97
  Trough girders           | 11  0 |  16  |Loose rivets.   |p. 50
                           |       |      |Cracked webs    |
  Plate girders            |  (?)  |  22  |Loose rivets    |
  Twin girders             | 31  6 |  23  |Weak. Cracked   |p. 13
                           |       |      |webs            |
     Ditto                 | 35  6 |  23  |Weak. Distorted.|p. 74
  Plate girders            | 42  0 |  23  |Loose rivets.   |p. 21
                           |       |      |Cracked webs    |
     Ditto                 | 72  0 |  29  |Weak. Loose     |p. 53
                           |       |      |rivets          |
     Ditto                 | 47  0 |  24  |Distortion      |p. 9
     Ditto                 | 32  0 |  32  |Rust. Cracked   |p. 14
                           |       |      |webs            |
    *Ditto                 | 25  0 |  36  |Weak            |p. 63
                           |       |      |                |
                           |       |      |                |
  *Trough girders          | 15  8 |  32  |Weak. Rusted    |pp. 68 & 98
                           |       |      |                |
                                _Cast Iron._
                           |       |      |                |
  *Girders                 | 32  0 |  36  |Weak            |p. 141
   Girders, cast-iron piles|  (?)  |  44  |Ditto           |
   Arches                  | 45  0 |  55  |Crack. Settle-  |p. 145
                           |       |      |ment            |
     Ditto                 |100  0 |  62  |Crack. Deforma- |pp. 80 & 145
                           |       |      |tion            |

With timber bridges the length of life appears to be about twenty-five
years, but this is very largely dependent upon the question of
maintenance, and may range from fifteen to thirty-five years. It is
manifest that repairs, when extensive and consisting of the renewal of
the more essential parts of the structure, border upon reconstruction,
and may be continued indefinitely. The length of life in ordinary cases,
and for the timbers commonly used in this country, may, for railway
bridges, be taken as stated, though for highway bridges possibly longer.

Of masonry bridges little is to be said but that it is only in cases of
bad work or material--with, perhaps, vibration or settlement--that these
have a shortness of life comparable with that of defective metallic
bridges. Where these adverse conditions obtain, heavy repairs may be
necessary before the structure is many years old; but, under reasonably
fair conditions, bridges of masonry may be expected to outlast
structures in any other material. Apart from road-bridges which are
admittedly long-lived, there are a large number of railway bridges and
viaducts of masonry which, despite heavy loads and vibration, have been
in use for the past seventy years.

Dealing with the cost of maintenance, this with bridges of wrought iron
or steel should result simply from scraping and painting, with such
other incidental work as may be necessary on the subsidiary materials
used in the structure. The cost of painting will vary with the height
and character of the bridge, and the amount of scaffolding, if any, and
may be from 5_d_. to 1_s_. or more per square yard; this if distributed
over five years, a not unusual interval between each painting, works out
at an appreciable figure, which may vary from one-third to one per cent.
of the first cost, per annum. The yearly cost of painting steel-work
will, for shorter intervals, come to a somewhat higher figure. Serious
occasional items of expense are those which should not be necessary,
repairs and possibly strengthening, which may raise the total cost of
maintenance very considerably.

Cast-iron bridges, being less liable to rust, cost less for painting
than other metallic bridges; and if the cast iron is closed in by
masonry, practically nothing; they do, indeed, involve very little
expenditure in the maintenance. Not being very amenable to repair or
strengthening, cast-iron bridges commonly remain very much as built, or
are reconstructed.

The proper care of timber bridges may become costly as the structure
gains in age, and soon grow to a very wasteful expenditure. This is
evident when it is considered that repairs may be necessary after ten
years, and that whatever may have been the cost of any part when new, it
cannot be replaced for the same amount, having regard to the labour
expended in removing the old member, and the special precautions to be
observed in dealing with an old structure carrying its load. In addition
to ordinary repairs, there will be paint or other protective coating to
be applied, though this is not always done.

The upkeep charges of masonry bridges will be practically nothing in
favourable cases; but, on the other hand, where extensive repairs become
necessary, may reach a considerable amount. Exceptional outlays are,
however, infrequent, and may be spread over a large number of years, in
those rare instances in which they become imperative.

  _Durability._      _Maintenance     _First Cost._

  Masonry            Masonry          Timber
  Cast Iron          Cast iron        Masonry
  Wrought iron       Wrought iron     Steel
  Steel              Steel            Cast iron
  Timber             Timber           Wrought iron

For purposes of ready comparison, placing bridges of the materials under
review in order of durability, they would appear as in column 1 of the
table above; in order of low maintenance charges, generally as in column
2; and in order of low first cost, as in column 3. With respect to the
question of first cost, the arrangement of the third column applies only
to small bridges, say, up to 70-foot span; and, being liable to
variation with the conditions, is but approximately correct. The less
costly descriptions of masonry are alone considered in this connection.

It may be added that the total yearly charge of interest on first cost,
redemption, and maintenance, appears to be for masonry bridges, about
one-half only of the corresponding totals for bridges of wrought iron,
steel, or timber; those of cast iron taking an intermediate place.

Summarising the above considerations, and dealing with the relative
merits of bridges in the different materials, it may be broadly stated
that for conditions at all suitable nothing seems to be superior to
masonry--including in this description first-class brickwork--whether
for road or railway bridges. One pronounced advantage of such bridges
with respect to length of life, is that they are but little affected by
increase of loads. The mass of a masonry arched structure is so great,
and the margin of strength commonly so liberal, that considerable
increments of load may have but little effect upon the reliability of
the structure.

Cast iron has, for bridges of simple design, a strong claim to the
second place, though its want of ductility is a demerit. It can,
however, have but a limited use in bridge construction, being applicable
only to small girder spans and skilfully-designed arched structures.

For bridges of moderate span in which the question of cost does not
control the matter, wrought iron should probably come next, steel being
best reserved for those of a larger size, in which weight of the
structure greatly affects economy.

Timber may be regarded as a material rarely to be used in this country
for structures to occupy a permanent place, unless for urgent economic
reasons of the moment.

While expressing this general view of the matter, it is to be admitted
that the propriety of these conclusions is somewhat discounted by the
difficulty there now is in obtaining cast iron of the desired
toughness, or wrought iron with promptitude and sufficient variety of
section at a reasonable price.

It is apparent, also, that the choice of material may be largely
influenced--even determined--by considerations of headway, construction
depth, or character of foundations; so that no very definite rules can
be usefully laid down, though the adoption of unsuitable materials has
not been so unusual as to make these suggestions altogether



The need for the reconstruction of bridges, arising from various causes
which have been treated in the preceding chapters, original weakness or
faults in design, decay or defects, may also be caused by such
extraneous considerations as the growth of loads, widening of the
openings spanned, or improvement of the headway.

In any case, a precise survey or measuring up of the structure and its
immediate surroundings is required, in the execution of which the
greatest care is desirable, and with respect to which it may be well to
give a few hints.

The surveying chain, when used, should be tested, the measure of
accuracy required rendering this imperative in a degree peculiar to work
of this class. Linen tapes should also be compared with a reliable steel
tape, and used only where sufficiently accurate for the particular
purpose. A careful and observant man may do very good work with a linen
tape, making just that allowance in the sag of the tape which corrects
for the inevitable stretch; but there is still some uncertainty involved
in its use, and the author prefers to rely upon a steel tape,
notwithstanding the inconvenience commonly experienced from its
intractable nature and liability to damage.

Instruments used must also be in the best adjustment; as errors, which
in ordinary field work may not be of great importance, are inadmissible
in bridge work.

It is not necessary here to enter upon the methods of small survey
work, but it may be desirable to point out that abutment walls should be
plumbed for verticality; girders, which are liable to be leaning,
defined in position by reference to their bearings; and generally that
it should never be taken for granted that there is truth in old work, or
that this may be assumed as to line or level.

In cases where disputes with any local authority as to headway are
likely to arise, it is prudent to supplement the information as to level
of soffits by rods cut to length in strict agreement with the clear
height, before removing the old superstructure.

It is apparent that in cases where the superstructure is already
condemned, the detail measurements may be confined to that part of the
structure which is to remain, securing only such information as to the
work superseded which may be required in arranging for the new work.

In taking particulars of skew bridges, needless as the warning may seem,
it is yet necessary to remark that there may be right or left-hand skews
which will not reverse. The author has known a disregard of this to make
serious trouble in two instances.

Dealing first with reconstruction of the superstructure of railway
under-bridges, these, if small, may not give much trouble, though the
demand for greater strength will, perhaps, involve some difficulty in
working to the limiting construction depth--i.e., the distance from the
top of rail to soffit of bridge--particularly as many old bridges have a
very niggardly allowance in this respect. It may be, and quite commonly
is, necessary to raise the rails a small amount, or, if headway is not
restricted, to lower the soffit. Clearances between the running gauge
and girder-work may also be difficult to secure, more liberal allowances
being now required than formerly. Complications in the character of the
permanent way, so frequently found upon old bridges, should, of course,
be got rid of, if possible; but the endeavour may introduce further
difficulties. Regard must throughout be had to the methods to be adopted
in removing old work and in erecting the new. Perhaps the simplest case
to deal with is that where girders lie parallel to, and under the rails,
with a timber floor upon which the permanent way is carried, as sections
of the road involving pairs of girders may be readily removed, and
replaced by the new girder-work (see Fig. 93). If the deck be of trough
flooring or old rails, the matter may not be so simple, as regard must
then be had to the position of joints in the existing floor, and the new
work be schemed with respect to the number and office of girders which
may be got in at any one breaking of the road. A slight slewing of rails
may sometimes be resorted to on occasion, where this has the effect of
releasing some part of the work not otherwise to be dealt with.

[Illustration: FIGS. 93 and 94.]

Bridges having main girders, with timber or trough flooring resting upon
the bottom flanges, or suspended by bolts, will, if carrying many roads,
cause some little difficulty, as the dismantling of any one span
involves the disturbance of others; where, however, many lines are
concerned, it may be feasible to put one or more temporarily out of use,
preserving the continuity of traffic over those which remain, but
refraining from any diversion of the more important roads.

Somewhat similar troubles occur where main girders with cross-girders at
the lower flanges are found, particularly if the cross-girders are
arranged in line, the ends abutting on each side of the same main girder
webs. It is seldom, however, that this construction is used in bridges
of small span carrying many roads; but where it does occur, it may
necessitate the use of timbering below, to carry the ends of
cross-girders when freed from their supporting main girders. (See Fig.

[Illustration: FIG. 95.]

If it is proposed to use new main and cross-girders, it is desirable to
arrange these in the manner already recommended, the cross-girders not
in line; this has peculiar advantages in reconstruction work, as the
bolting up and riveting of the cross-girder ends is not hampered by
other cross-girder attachments, leaving each piece of floor complete in
itself. Twin main girders are occasionally used with the same object,
and present the advantage of simplicity in erection and independence of
one span from those adjoining (see Fig. 95); but the method is wasteful
of space, and involves a somewhat greater total weight in the main

The foregoing observations apply more generally to small single-span
bridges, the operations on which may be effected without any material
disturbance of traffic arrangements; though this can seldom be wholly
avoided, it should be confined, where practicable, to a few hours on a

The reconstruction of bridges over 70-feet span may have to be dealt
with under more elaborate arrangements, if carrying two lines only,
possibly with single-line working for a period more or less protracted;
or it may be necessary, having regard to the weight of main girders to
be removed, to carry the whole structure upon temporary staging,
supporting the road independently, cutting up and removing the old work,
and later putting the new work in place, either by detailed erection in
its ultimate position, or by erection at one side and drawing across.
The latter method is, however, commonly reserved for cases in which no
special staging is used under the old structure.

Bridges of a number of openings are usually dealt with by securing full
possession of one road at a time, which for double-line bridges
necessitates single-line working. It is commonly out of the question,
even with moderate spans, to deal with some of these only at a time, and
so avoid continuous possession of one road, for a lengthened period; and
it can only, as a rule, be managed where the ends of the new main
girders do not in any way interfere with those of the old, and where it
is not necessary to reset bed-stones, or make other alterations in the
bearings which necessitate the complete clearance of the pier-tops. In
exceptional cases it may be found possible to arrange for the complete
removal of a small number of moderate spans on a Sunday, and the putting
in place of the new work, as in the case of small single spans.

Spans erected to one side of the final position, to be later travelled
across, are commonly mounted upon gantry staging, and up to 50 tons
weight may rest directly upon rails well greased. The power adopted to
move the span is usually that of screw or hydraulic jacks, or
occasionally engine haulage, special tackle being in that case necessary
to apply the engine power in the right direction. If the time is
limited, or weight considerable, a more elaborate arrangement by which
the load is supported upon wheels, may be necessary, with a view to
reducing the resistance to a manageable amount. All work which it is
possible to do before shifting into place, including the permanent way,
where this is of a special character, should be executed in advance,
leaving only the rail connections to be made good when the span is in

Where timber staging is used to carry the permanent way before
dismantling an old structure, it is convenient to begin by placing stout
balks of timber under the sleepers from end to end of the bridge, or
directly under the rails if space is limited; the staging is then
arranged to give support to the running timbers.

Metallic under-bridges of ample headway, perhaps over coal-workings
(since settled down), or for some less sufficient reason made of metal,
may be cheaply replaced by brick arches built below the old
superstructure, the springings of the arch being checked into the face
of the existing abutments. With stout walls, careful work and good
material will make this an efficient and durable job.

It being a primary condition of reconstruction work to interfere but
little with ordinary traffic arrangements, single-line working is
avoided wherever practicable; as this, always objectionable, may
necessitate the erection of special signals and signal apparatus,
besides the temporary remodelling of the roads, and in this country may
involve also a Board of Trade inspection--altogether a troublesome and
expensive business.

Any bridgework which is accompanied by breaking or blocking the road can
only be undertaken by arrangement with the traffic department, after
notice duly given and published in the periodical record of such
matters; it is generally fixed for a Sunday. Preparatory to this, it is
necessary to make all ready by getting as much done beforehand as is
possible. Wherever practicable and prudent, the whole work is released
from its surroundings, masonry cut away, rivets cut out and replaced by
good bolts, nuts removed from holding down bolts, or the bolts cut
through, etc. Particular care should be exercised to ascertain what
remains to be done immediately prior to removal. It is necessary further
to arrange for trucks to be in readiness to receive old material, and
others containing new girder work to be conveniently stationed, having
been loaded up to come right end foremost; engine power, cranes, empty
and loaded trucks, being all marshalled and so placed as to be available
in proper order, and as wanted. There must be no mistake as to what
roads will be fouled by swinging the crane with its load, or as to the
reach of the crane in effecting its work.

The whole operation to be conducted on any Sunday should be well within
the resources of the men and plant engaged in it, or so managed that it
is a matter of no serious importance if the whole cannot be completed as
originally desired.

Possession of the roads to be blocked having been secured between
certain hours, if some part only of the work to be carried out has been
completed as the time grows short, any attempt to execute the remainder
may result in checking trains until such time as the line may be
reported clear--a contingency to be avoided--though the temptation to
save another Sunday’s work by delay of a few minutes to some one train
may be considerable.

In scheming any reconstruction, it may be insisted that at least one
feasible method of carrying out the work must be secured, though it is
the author’s experience that frequently some other method than that
contemplated is in the end adopted, when, some months later, the final
arrangements for fixing are made. The tendency of a zealous erector is
commonly to take full advantage of any facilities offered, with a view
to a moderate amount of work being done at any one time, and to achieve
as much more as he can himself secure by scheming, or a liberal use of
labour; all Sunday work, with attendance of engines and cranes, being of
necessity expensive.

Railway over-bridges do not commonly present any particular
difficulties. The spans to be dealt with are usually small, and the
weights to be lifted moderate. The height above rails may, however, be
above the lift of any crane; and, for the purpose of raising main
girders, a derrick may become necessary, the rearing and guying of which
may block many roads during the time it is in use. The girders of larger
spans, too unmanageable to be lifted whole, may be erected upon staging;
to secure the requisite headway it may be necessary to build the girders
at a level above that at which they will finally be, lowering them into
position when self-supporting, and after the removal of the staging.

The widening of railway under-bridges is, as a rule, a matter of no
special difficulty, but some remarks may be of use. Widenings should be
planned with a regard to later reconstruction of the original bridge, if
that is at all likely to be necessary, and with the object that, when
complete, the whole should be a consistent piece of work.

It may, indeed, happen that widening of a bridge may involve the
remodelling or reconstruction of the old work, to enable the new roads
to be laid down as desired; this is more likely to be necessary where
there exist main girders not competent to take any additional load, and
to duplicate which would sacrifice space between the new and old roads;
or it may be unavoidable because of slewing of the old rails, as part of
a general rearrangement.

[Illustration: FIG. 96.]

Dealing with widenings simply, there is often some little trouble in
contriving a connection between the new and the old work, as this may
have to be made under, or close to, the sleeper ends of the existing
roads. It is desirable to arrange this part so that no drilling of old
work for rivets or bolts shall be necessary, there being, in fact, no
strict connection. By judicious scheming, this may be effected, whilst
securing freedom from leakage of water at the joint. (See Figs. 96 and
97.) If tying of the new and old structure is desired, this can usually
be done quite simply, well below the floor at some more accessible

[Illustration: FIGS. 97 and 98.]

The strict jointing-up of trough flooring, new to old, at right angles
to the troughs, cannot be contemplated, but may be dealt with by
treating each part independently, the ends being near together,
separated by the space of an inch or so. Each trough end being closed up
by a diaphragm or oak block to prevent ballast dropping through, the top
of the space may be covered by a loose strip, secured to prevent it
shifting, the bottom provided with a gutter of liberal dimensions to
take away leakage, as it is practically impossible to make this
arrangement “drop dry” under the conditions common in executing work of
this kind (see Fig. 98).

[Illustration: FIGS. 99 and 100.]

Where trough flooring, new and old, has to be made good parallel to the
troughs, the difficulty of making a direct connection is less marked,
and it is not unusual to introduce a strip cover simply; but if
accessible, the work is still troublesome, as there is commonly a want
of strict alignment and truth as to level, between the new and the old
troughs. It is preferable to arrange for junctions of a more convenient
type, as in Figs. 99 and 100.

When widening masonry arch bridges by girder-work, it is desirable to
insure that any girders parallel to the masonry face shall be
sufficiently far removed from it to enable painting to be executed. The
space remaining between the girder and the arch may then be bridged by
floor-plates, or an extension of the timber floor if that is adopted.

In effecting a junction such as this, the author has used the
arrangement shown in Fig. 101, the advantage being that the piece of
connecting-floor is sufficiently wide, and also sufficiently flexible,
to allow the girder-work freedom to deflect without doing harm. The load
carried by the width of floor is, as to one part, delivered well on to
the old masonry, in preference to being imposed near to the face. If it
should for any reason be imperative to place the girder close to the
arch face, it is preferable to scheme the floor so that there shall be
no actual contact, the new floor in that case slightly overhanging the
masonry, as in Fig. 102, or dealt with as in Fig. 103, if depth is

The widening of masonry arch bridges by masonry, calls for no other
remark than that the new work should be free from the old; though it may
be advisable, when the widening is narrow, to tie the new work to the
old in such a way as to permit independent settlement.

If the widening is exceptionally narrow, there may be no choice but to
bond the new and old work together, and in the best manner, with the
object of minimising the risk of separation.

[Illustration: FIGS. 101 and 102.]

[Illustration: FIG. 103.]

The above matters relative to widenings, though apparently trifling, may
by neglect cause much trouble and expense in maintenance. They
principally concern small bridges, the extension of larger structures
coming rather in the category of independent works.


In bringing these chapters, dealing largely with questions affecting
maintenance, to a close, it may be well to draw attention to the fact
that economy in design (apart from improper reduction of sections) goes
hand-in-hand with economy of upkeep. Given good material, that which
favours low first cost, simplicity of detail, fewness of parts, absence
of smithing, the use of rolled sections, and good depth to girders,
favours also small expenditure in maintenance. The less complex the
design, the easier will it be to keep the structure in order; the less
the number of parts, the fewer will be the connections. Freedom from
smithing eliminates liability to failure at cranks, or other work which
has been subject to fire. It is apparent also that the free use of
rolled instead of built-up sections, reduces the liability to trouble
from bad riveting, or from good riveting overstressed. A liberal depth
to all girders, by reducing deflections, limits the inclination of the
ends and gives the connections a better chance of remaining intact.
Lastly, with work of this character, the labour of scraping and painting
is simplified and cheapened.

The author wishes to reiterate the statement made in the opening
paragraphs of this book, that all instances of decrepitude, failure, or
peculiar behaviour cited, have been under his direct observation. The
fact is insisted upon simply that the reader may appreciate that the
information is at first hand.

It has not been thought necessary, nor was it considered desirable, to
indicate the locality of each case referred to; but it may be said that
the matter of these chapters has been accumulating during many years,
and relates to structures under the control of many different bodies.

The study of old bridges is strongly recommended, particularly with
respect to stress and strain, which in structures new or old, occur
possibly as may be expected--certainly as they must. Consideration of
existing work may thus be a useful check upon the fanciful requirements
of some methods of design. There is a recent tendency, for instance, in
English practice to over-stiffen the webs of plate-girders, such that if
the theory upon which the results are based were true, many old bridges
carrying their loads with no sign of distress, should have failed long
ago. Excess in riveting is a common extravagance, to which the same
criticism may in a less degree apply. Considerable impact allowances for
girders of large span may also be referred to as an application of
empiric theory not justified by experience, which, as in all cases where
such considerations fight with facts, should be modified or rejected.


  Abutments, leaning, 82, 173
  -- movements of, 158
  -- settlement of, 78
  Adjustment of centre girders, 128
  -- of distributing girders, 120
  Angular distortions, 88
  Arches, equilibrium of, 162
  -- repair of, 163
  Arrangement of cross girders, 21, 175
  Asphalt, 26

  Ballast, 29
  Bearing pressure on rivets, 47, 51, 57
  Bearings, skew, 4
  Bottom booms, end bays, 18
  Bracing, additional, 117
  -- effects of, 34
  -- flat bars, 37
  -- incomplete, 41
  -- sea piers, 42
  Bridge floors, 20
  -- repairs, 107
  -- surveys, 107
  Bridges, life of, 165
  Breaks in [T] bars, 16
  Buckling of webs, 16

  Camber, 24, 80
  Cast-iron arches, 80, 145
  -- -- bridges, 141
  -- -- columns, 7,144
  -- -- girders, 141
  -- -- in sea water, 101
  Centre girders, 122
  Cinder ballast, 29
  Cold-blast iron, 141
  Cooling stresses in cast iron, 145
  Construction depth, 173
  Corrugated sheeting, 29
  Cost of centre girders, 135
  -- of maintenance, 168
  Counterbracing, 19
  Cracked bedstones, 3
  -- columns, 7
  -- web plates, 13, 14, 15, 50
  Cross girder arrangement, 21
  -- girders, fixed ends, 22, 118
  -- -- rusted, 29, 97
  -- -- weak, 30, 66

  Decay and painting, 96
  -- of floor plates, 109
  -- of timber, 28, 150
  Deflection, 85
  -- due to booms and web, 86
  -- exceptional cases, 88
  -- in new and old work, 85
  -- working formulæ, 87
  Deformations, 73
  Depth of girders, 23, 89, 184
  Diagonal ties, 19, 42
  Distortion due to temperature changes, 79, 84
  Distributing girders, 120
  Drainage holes, 25
  “Drop” loads, 89
  Dwarf walls under floors, 26

  Early steel girders, 68
  Economy, 184
  Effect of earth slips, 157
  -- of floor on deflection, 88
  -- -- -- on stresses, 23, 30
  -- of high stress, 86
  -- of permanent way on stresses, 18
  --of skew on bridge floors, 25
  -- -- -- on centre girders, 131
  -- of transverse bracings, 34
  -- of vibration on masonry, 162
  -- of wave action on sea piers, 42
  End bays, bottom booms, 18
  Equilibrium of masonry arches, 162
  Examination of bridges, 107
  Examples of cast-iron bridges overstressed, 141
  -- of high stress, 70
  -- of life of bridges, 167
  -- of rivet stress, 56
  -- of strengthening, 114
  -- -- -- by centre girders, 131, 134
  Excessive bearing pressure, 51

  Faulty workmanship, 80
  Fixed ends to cross girders, 22, 118
  Flange stresses, 63, 66, 67
  Flanges, side loaded, 9, 73
  Flat bar bracing, 37
  Flexing of girders, 9, 74, 76
  Flexure curves, 138
  Fractured bedstones, 3
  -- rails, 30
  -- webs, 13, 14, 15, 50
  Fractures in cast iron, 7, 145

  Girder bearings, 2
  Girders on columns, 7
  -- on masonry, 8
  Girderwork in masonry, 101

  Headway, 173
  High stress, 61
  -- in cast iron, 141
  -- in rivets, 47, 52
  Holes for drainage, 25

  Impact, 20, 62
  Inclination of girder ends, 23, 53
  Incomplete bracing, 41
  Initial set, 88
  Interference with traffic, 177

  Jack arches, 29, 101
  Joints in rails, 29, 109
  -- in trough floors, 28, 180
  Junction between metallic and masonry bridges, 183
  -- -- new and old masonry bridges, 182
  -- -- new and old metallic bridges, 180

  Lattice girder stresses, 47-66
  Liberal depth to girders, 23, 89, 184
  Life of bridges, 165
  Limit of elasticity, 61
  Linen tapes, 172
  Longitudinal floor girders, 23
  Loose rivets, 21, 25, 51, 53, 56, 109

  Main girders, 9-17
  Masonry bridges, 157
  -- enduring character of, 161
  Memel timber, 150
  Methods of calculation, 46, 61
  -- of observing deflection, 90
  -- of setting out deflection curves, 138
  Movements of abutments, 158
  -- of cast-iron bridge, 82
  -- of piers, 42, 83, 159
  -- of rollers, 7
  -- of wrought-iron bridges, 4, 21, 38, 73

  New members to old work, 116

  Oiling steelwork, 99
  Old drawings unreliable, 108
  -- rivets, 21, 51, 54, 55
  Open webs, 17
  Overhead bracing, 39
  -- girders, 118

  Painting, 98
  Parapets, 79
  Permissible stress in old work, 110
  Piers, movements of, 42, 83, 159
  -- out of plumb, 159
  Piles, decay of, 102, 150
  Pitch pine, 28
  Plasticity, 61
  Plate webs, 9
  Plated floors, 23, 25, 30
  Pointing masonry, 164
  Proposed rivet stresses, 58

  Quickly applied loads, 89

  Rail joints, 29, 109
  Rails, breaks in, 30
  Reaction of cross girder with centre support, 127
  Red-lead, 98, 100
  Relative merits of bridges, 169
  Relief by centre girders, 122
  Repainting, 100
  Repair of bridges, 107, 147, 155, 163
  -- of timber piles, 156
  Replacing flange plates, 110
  -- rivets, 111
  Resistance of cast iron to rust, 101
  Riveted connections, 45, 86
  Rivets in cramped positions, 20
  -- in cross girder ends, 21, 49, 53, 54
  -- in road bridges, 60
  -- in webs of main girders, 46
  -- spacing of, 60, 80
  -- stresses in, 56
  Rocking of piers, 8, 83, 159
  Roller bearings, 7
  Rubble masonry, 161-164
  Running load and deflection, 95
  Rusting, instances of, 29, 96
  -- of steelwork, 99
  -- over sea-water, 98

  Sag in timber bridges, 150
  -- of tapes, 172
  Scour under piers, 161
  Sea piers, 42, 102
  Setting bedstones, 3, 129, 176
  Settlements, 76, 157
  Skew bearings, 4
  -- bridges, right and left, 173
  -- -- floors, 25
  Skirting plate, 26
  Slope of girder ends, 92
  Softening of cast-iron in sea-water, 101
  Spacing of rivets, 60, 79
  Spread of abutments, 157
  Spring joints, 23
  Steel trough girders, 68
  -- troughing, 70
  Stiffening girders from floor, 12, 40
  -- to webs, 16, 38, 185
  Stop piers, 158
  Strength of light top booms, 40
  Strengthening of bridges, 107, 122
  -- bridge floors, 118
  -- cross girders, 123
  Stress in plated floors, 31
  Study of old bridges, 185

  Tall piers, 42, 159
  Timber bridges, 149
  -- floors, 27
  -- staging, 177
  Top booms, 18
  Traffic during reconstruction, 177
  Transverse bracing, 34, 117
  Trough floors, 27, 180
  -- girders, 50, 74
  [T] stiffeners, breaks in, 16
  Twin girders, 15, 75
  Twisting of girders, 11, 68, 73
  -- -- -- corrected, 12
  Types of reconstruction, 174

  [U]-shaped booms, 18
  Uncomplicated stress, 62
  Uniform pressure on bearings, 6

  Value of E in deflection formulæ, 87
  Vibration, 162

  Wasted webs, 14, 29, 96
  Water, scour of, 161
  Web buckling, 16
  -- plates, cracked, 13, 14, 15, 50
  -- rivets, 46, 50
  -- stiffening, 16, 38, 185
  Widening masonry bridges, 182
  -- metallic bridges, 179
  Wide spaced rivets, 79
  Wind pressure, 41, 43

  Yielding of piers, 8, 83, 159


Transcriber's Notes:

The text of the original work (including inconsistent spelling,
hyphenation, formatting etc.) has been retained, except as mentioned

The slight differences between the Table of Contents and the text have
not been changed.

Changes made to the text:

Some punctuation errors and obvious typographical errors have been
corrected silently.

Several illustrations have been moved to where they are described in the

Page 123, formula (2): the original shows an unclear superscript after
the first L. As described in the following line of the text, this has
been changed to L{_l_}.

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