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Magazine of Concrete Research, 1995, 47, No.

171, June, 119-127

An experimental study of the behaviour of sleeved bolt connections in precast concrete frames
S. A. M. Mohamed* and C. K. Jolly*

Sleeved bolt beam-to-column connections have been used and its economy, depend to a great extent on the proper in the precast concrete industry for many years. Theyhave selection and design of itsconnections. In skeletal frame advantages over other jointing methods in component construction, beam-to-column connections are the most production, quality control, transportation and assembly. critical part of the structural concept because they must However, there is at present limited information be capable of transmitting axial forces, shear forces and concerning their detailed structural behaviour under shear bending moments safely and without excessive deformaloading. The study reported in this paper was undertaken tion. It is essential to consider their design very carefully to elucidate the behaviour of suchjoints under symmetrical under all stages of the construction process, from vertical loading. Two series of full-scale tests were conceptual studies through to construction. pelformed on sample columns for which the column The joints must be capable of easy fabrication, transportation without damage, rapid and positive location geometry and bolt arrangements conformed with whenpositioned by crane; of absorbing construction successful commercial practice. The first series of tests was used to investigate the influence of bolt density on tolerances, and yet must provide a robustandrigid the ultimate load, failure mode andstifSness of such connection when fully assembled. In spite of the wide connections. The second test series showed the influence variety of beam-to-column connections in use, their practical design is notcovered in detail by current design of varying concrete strength and the effectiveness of the codes. Few references, such as thatcompiled by the confining reinforcement. Full details o f these test programmes are given. The finite element modelling Institution of Structural Engineers,' deal with design of technique was used to develop three-dimensional models connections. which were calibrated against the test observations. These Sleeved bolt connections are among the most models subsequently provided complete stress and extensively used. They are popular because deformation distributions within the joint components at (a) their manufacture is simple and can be varied without intervals up to the ultimate load, and are the subject of causing significant damage to formwork another paper. (b) there are no vulnerable cast-in protrusions to be damaged during handling and delivery (c) pre-assembly at ground level of the steel brackets onto Introduction the columns facilitates rapid and positive location of The use of precast concrete members by the members during frame assembly, while retaining the construction industryhas increased rapidly throughout the ability to accommodate tolerances until the frame is world over the past two decades. Advantages such as complete speed of erection, better quality, dimensional precision ( d ) they require little supervision compared with other and,aboveall,reduction of costs have made precast types of connection, so they are suitable for site concrete superior to its site-cast counterpart. The conditions satisfactory performance of precast a structure as a whole, (e) they provide connections with high rigiditydue to the use of high-tensile bolts * University of Southampton, Southampton S09 5NH, UK. (f, in their,finished form they have no visible protrusion below the beam lower soffit, which is usually Paper accepted 6 July 1994.

Sleeved bolt connections in precast concrete frames

Bolt sleeve
Grout hole

Steel bracket Precast column

Fig. 1. Typical details of a sleeved bolt beam-to-column connection

essential for the architectural and functional requirement.

Site assembly of the connection

The details of a sleeved bolt connection are shown in Fig. 1. The steps of assembling the connection are, briefly, as follows. A group of high-tensile, grade 8 . 8 steel bolts, threaded at bothends, are passed through mild steel sleeves embedded through the breadth of a reinforced concrete column. The bolts are also passed through matching holes drilled in two stiffened steel brackets. A vertical bolt runs between the upper and lower brackets. Pairs of brackets on opposite sides of the column are held in position by the hexagonal nuts on each bolts end. The columns are then raised, positioned and plumbed. The top bracket and vertical bolt are temporarily removed by the erector. At this stage, each bracket can serve as a seat cleat for the incoming beamend. The beams usually have recessed ends to confine the bracket within their cross-section. Replacement of the top bracket and vertical bolt provides stability and torsional restraint to the beam end. Later, the steel bolts and brackets are surrounded with expanding grout to provide corrosion and fire protection.

The research programme

This paper provides basic research data regarding the behaviour of sleeved bolt connections under symmetrical

vertical shear loading. There are several potential failure mechanisms. The connection is assembled using components of several different materials. Material properties such as concrete strength and yield strengths of the various steel components (i.e. bolt, sleeve, links and brackets) can greatly affect the connection performance. Geometrical variables such as number, size, spacing and arrangement of bolts within each joint also affect the joints ultimate capacity. The precast concrete beams are relatively stiff and can therefore normally be assumed to apply only a vertical bearing force on the seat cleat. This bearing force can cause failures within the notched endof the beams, which are described fully in an earlier paper.* The lower bracket is normally designed to resist the entire bearing force. The brackets themselves are normally designed to act rigidly, and are consequently unlikely to fail under service stresses. The bearing force produces a large shear load, whichis the major actiontobe transferred into the column. Uppermost bolts through the lower bracket must also be checked to ensure that they can provide a restoring moment to counter the moment produced by the small eccentricity from the column face of the bearing force on the seat cleat. When the connection is under pure shear loading, the load is transferred from the seat cleat to the column through the bolts. Bearing of the bolts on the sleeves then transmits the load to the concrete. Thus, two principal modes of failure are likely tooccur at the column face at ultimate load, as follows.
Magazine of Concrete Research, 1995,47, No. 17 1


Mohamed and Jolly

0 0

0 0 0

Tensile forces in steel links

Fig. 2.

Confining force developed in thelinksnear

a joint



(a) The bolt may fail by being sheared off completely: this is most likely at the root of a thread when the threaded portion of the bolt extends into the shear plane. (6) Under the application of a concentrated load, the concrete in the region below the joint level is confined laterally by the column link reinforcement against the bursting stresses that develop. Another contribution to this confinement is provided by the brackets back plate, which is compressed against the column face in this region. None the less, the concrete beneath the sleeve may crush sufficiently for the sleeve to deform vertically downwards at the column face. Bearing of the bolt in the sleeve invert causes lateral stresses to develop in the concrete as shown in Fig. 2. Horizontal components of these stresses create a lateral tensile stress in this region. Consequently, concrete cracks start to develop. At higher loads, the steel links beneath the sleeve may yield due to these transverse stresses, and the already cracked concrete will then fail.
Thus, two full-scaletest programmes were undertaken. Test series A was performed to examine the influence of bolt density on overall joint behaviour, e.g. failure mode, ultimate strength and stiffness. Test series B was carried out to assess the effect of concrete strength and its confinement onthe load-carrying capacityof single-bolted joints. Numerical three-dimensional models were then developed using the finite element package ANSYS3 to obtain additional information that could not be observed or measured experimentally, e.g. stress distribution in the most highly stressed zones at both working and ultimate loads. The experimental study of these failure mechanisms in the column is the subject of this paper.
Magazine of Concrete Research, 1995, 47, No. 171

Fig. 3. Series A test column geometryandsleevelocations (dimensions in mm)

The tests
All tests were carried out on reinforced columns of 300mm square cross-section. Formwork and sleeve setting-out dimensions are shown in Fig. 3. White Portland cement was used in both mixes as it facilitates crack detection. The concrete had a moderately high workability, with slump values in the range of 65-76mm.A consistent 40mm concrete cover was maintained to the longitudinal column reinforcing bars. Steel tubes 300 mm long with an internal diameter of 27 a 0 mm and a 3 - 0mm wall thickness were used as sleeves. This internal diameter was chosen to suit the 24.0mm nominal dia. bolts used in all the tests. Each bolt had a total length of 390 mm. This length, which included 35 mm threaded on each end, was chosen to avoid direct contact between the threads and the sleeves inner surface, and to allow for tightening of nuts against the brackets backplates. Brackets were made from grade 43 steel plates welded together. Steel webs were designed to carry safely the anticipated applied shear load. The plates were connected with continuous fillet welds.

Test series A In test series A, the number of bolts per joint was the


Sleeved bolt connections in precast concrete frames

principal experimental parameter. The series was divided into four tests. Each test involved a joint with a different number of bolts ranging from one central bolt to four bolts in horizontal pairs. Vertical and horizontal spacings between sleeves centrelines within each joint were 140 mm and 65 mm respectively. Tests in this series are identified by a number corresponding to the number of bolts attaching the seat cleat to the column. The column used toprovide all specimens in test series A was reinforced longitudinally with four 25 mm deformed high-yield steel bars. 8 mm dia. steel links, at 50 mm centres, were used along the column height. A concrete mix was designed with the following proportions by weight: 1.0: 1.48:0.85: 1.70:0.375 (cement-fine aggregate- 10 mm aggregate-20 mm aggregate-water). Specimens were damp cured at 20C for 15 days in a curing tank.

Test series B Three tests were carried out on single-bolted joints to examine the effect of varying the concrete strength and degree of confinement on the joints ultimate load and failure mode. The joints tested were similar to test 1 in series A. However, the concrete compressive strength was reduced by almost half. The degrees of confinement were low, medium and high and the tests are referred to as L, M and H respectively. Columns used in testseries B were reinforced with four 16 mm bright mild steel bars. To reduce the strength of the steel links below the joints level, the first two links in this region were spaced at 50 mm and 175 mm from the bolt sleeve. A 150 mm vertical spacingwas maintained for the remaining 8 mm steel links in the 1.0 m high column. The designed concrete mix adopted for these tests had the following proportions by weight: 1.59 :0.89 : 1.79: 0.485 (sequence as above). These columns were air-cured. To minimize the concrete confinement in test L, two 12 mm high and3 - 0mm thick steel plates were introduced across the upper and lower edges of the brackets flat back plates, between the back plates and the column faces. These plates actedas packing at both top and bottom edges of the bracket to createan almost uniform gap into which the concrete from the face could spa11 under load. Furthermore, the steel links located immediately beneath the joint level were reduced in cross-sectional area so that they yielded at a tensile force equivalent to the link steel minimum design stress of 250.0 N/mm2. In test M the brackets were machined flat so that they were initially in direct contact over their whole area with the concrete. The steel links reduced cross-section provided the only reduction of confinement. In test H the back plates of the brackets were left with their thermally induced curvature from the welding process, and this provided the maximum confinement possible to the columnface immediately belowthe sleeve. Also, the full cross-sectional area of steel links was retained in this case.

Fig. 4. Equilibrium of forces on a loaded bracket

Additionally, static friction tests were carried out on the loose brackets against the precast concrete column faces. For these, a column was laid on its side, and the brackets in turn were placed on the horizontal surface with vertical loads applied to them covering the derived range of interface loads for the in-service brackets. The horizontal force required to initiate movement was then measured for each case. The static coefficient of friction values enabled corrections to the shear load on the bolts, thus allowing for the effect of friction between the brackets and precast concrete columns. When the equilibrium of vertical forces for a loaded steel bracket is such as that shown in Fig. 4, the applied vertical load P must equal the sum of the shear forces carried by the bolts Rb, plus the frictional force acting at the column face R f . Top bolts are subjected to a tensile force T to provide a reaction to the moment resulting from the eccentricity of applied load from the column face. Load eccentricity is small in these tests compared with the backplate height. Consequently, within the range of geometries investigated, the estimated ratio of the tensile stress to the shear stress per bolt was not large enough to cause a significant shear strength reduction. Hence the effect of the tensile force on the joint ultimate shear strength has been ignored. Friction occurs in the lower, compressive contact area between the backplate of the bracket and the column face. To obtain the actual shear forces carried by the bolts, an estimated value of the corresponding frictional force developed in this contact area was deducted.By satisfying the moment equilibrium conditions for a loaded bracket,
Magazine of Concrete Research, 1995,47, No. 171

Mohamed and Jolly

a value for the developed compressive force C was obtained. Then, using the measured friction coefficient between steel and the precast concrete, a value for the frictional force could be estimated at each loadincrement. The load values reported in this paper are per bolt end cross-section, after the deduction of the corresponding frictional force. This is to allow direct comparison between results obtained for bolts in different joint tests. Separate tests were carried out to determine the compressive and indirect tensile strengths of the concrete, and the yield strength of the reinforcement used.

Experimental procedure
The column base was carefully centralized in a 1500 kN maximum capacity testing machine. The machine top platen was denied any free rotation after the application of the first load increment. This ensured that the applied 6 mm thick steel U-plates Bolts load was shared equally between the twobrackets despite any initial asymmetry. All tests required deflections to be monitored at the same positions relative tothe brackets. Thus a single frame was 12 mm dia. steel rod assembled around the joint to hold the measuring equipconcrete column ment in the required positions (see Fig. 5). The frame was madefrom two 6 mm thick U-shaped steel plates fixed independently to the column top by 12 mm bolts. Each bolt was threaded into a hole drilled and tapped in the ends of the main column bars. An 8 mm hole was drilled and tapped in the U-plates outside the column section. Four steel rods of 12 mm diameter and 500 mm length I II were threaded and connected into these holes. These rods 7 6 mm thick tie were also connected at a level below the joint by a closed I 6 mm thick tie steel frame, formed from four 6 mm plates around the column. This provided a rigid and stable mounting frame Fig. 5. Transducermounting framedetails (dimensions in mm) for transducers. Linear variable displacement transducers were used to not less than 50 mm higher than the column top to avoid determine the movement of the bolts, the brackets and applying anydirect load on the column. The test procedure the concrete around the test joints. Transducers were was to apply load increments until the joints were not calibrated independently using a micrometer. A Solartron capable of supporting any further load. When the Orion data logger recorded the deformation data at each monitored deflections indicated the onset of non-linearity, load increment. The following measurements were taken the load increments were reduced from 50 kN to 25 kN. in each test The progress of any visible crack formation was (a) the downward vertical deflection of the brackets monitored by visual inspection of the joint between load back plate; these measurements were taken as increments. representative of the bolts vertical deflection (b) the bolts longitudinal deflection, i.e. its axial extension Test results (c) the variation of the concretes sideways expansion at The test results are summarized here. More detailed a series of points along both sides of the bracket; results are given in Ref. 4. transducers were mounted around the joint, using purpose-made aluminium channels bolted to a steel Test series A angle; the angle ran horizontally between two of the The observed structural behaviour of a typical series vertical steel mounting frame rods, to which it was A joint test can be described as follows. Bedding of the fixed. bolt onto the sleeve invert during the first load increments Loads were applied to the joint brackets through two mild gave rise torelatively large vertical deflections. The bolt also tended to part from the column at one end and was steel plates300 mm high by 250 mm wide by 40 mm thick, drawn in to the column face at the other end. On further as shown in Fig. 6 . The top surfaces of the plates were

Magazine of Concrete Research, 1995, 47, No. 171


Sleeved bolt connections in precast concrete frames

--lSteel tie rod -

Steel loading plate-

Steel bracket

Concrete column-

Bottom platen

of the sleeves cast into the columns. By compressing the sleeve against the concrete beneath it at eachend, the bolt had crushed the concrete in this area, and some local spalling occurred as the steel brackets were removed. However, most of the crushed material was firmly compacted, andbecamedislodgedonlywhentapped gently. Friction marks were found at the interface between the lower parts of the backplates and the corresponding column faces, and on the areas of compacted, crushed concrete below each bolt. Fig. 7 shows a photograph of these marks, which provide qualitative visual evidence of high pressure and frictional resistance to vertical deflection of the bracket. The result ofhaving a high concretecompressive strength and substantial steel link concentration around the joints in test series A was that shear in the bolts was the dominant mode of failure. Since all bolts used in the tests have nominally identical properties, the loaddeflection data obtained for the single bolt in test 1 are compared in Fig. 8 with corresponding data for each bolt in joints containing numerous bolts. In test 1, the bolt failed by shearing off at one end, at an ultimate load of 210 e 0 kN. The failure shear plane passedthroughthereducedsection at theroot ofthe threads. The other endofthisboltwasalsoseverely distorted in shear. Tests 2 and 3 were stopped and the joints deemed to have failed when they could no longer support the applied
Magazine of Concrete Research, 1995, 47, No. 171

Fig. 6. General arrangement of the stub column in the test machine

loading, the bolt became well seated against the sleeve invert, giving rise to an almost constant stiffness for most of the load range. By the time significant bending moment had developed dueto the small loadeccentricity from the column face, the rotation of the backplate was visible and resulted in a further gradual increase of axial bolt deflection. Just before failure, the vertical deflection rate increased rapidly, with shear deformation of the bolts visible in the gap created between the column face and the bracket backplate. There were no visible cracks around the joints at any stage in test series A, and correspondingly noappreciable lateral concrete movement was recorded at any of the monitored levels. Most of the bolts showed a significant shear deformation at their loaded ends. Examination of the bolt shanks againsta flat surface also indicated limited plastic bending about their longitudinal axes. Neither the bolt sections nor the threads were significantly distorted by the bearing stresses. Inspection of the steel components at the end of each test showed that the upper curved surface of the holes through the brackets had deformed due to bearing of the bolts. Yielding of thebracket material had developed the contact zone into an identifiable trapezoidal area, greatest next to the column.The topof each hole had consequently become oval in shape. Imprints of the bolt threads were formed in this trapezoidal area. Similar evidenceof yield wasapparent within the ends

Mohamed and Jolly

load. The ultimate load per bolt in both these joints was found tobe 177 -0 kN. Severe shear distortion inthe bolts was clearly visible after the tests. As the shear planepassed through the threaded portion of the bolt in tests 1 to 3, the bolt stress at failure was calculated using the reduced diameter. The threaded crosssectional area is 0 7 times that of the bolt shank for a standard 24 mm bolt. Based on the reduced area and the failure loads quoted, the bolt shear stress was calculated to be 663 1 N/mm2 and 558 -0 N/mm2 at failure of joint 1 and of joints 2 and 3, respectively. Test 4 used brackets that were not fabricated commercially. A weld fracture in the bracket caused failure. Thispremature failure occurredat aload of 120 kN per bolt end, which corresponds to a shear stress of 379 N/mm2. This incident demonstrated the importanceof using factory-weldedcomponentsof a consistent standard to avoid different modes of failure within joints formed in this way. A repeat of this test using a commercially fabricated bracket was undertaken subsequently, and failed at a load of136 kN per bolt end. The bolt shear stress in this case was calculated to be 430 N/mm2.

Fig. 7 . Friction marks on the spalled concrete below tested sleeves

Test series B In test series B, bolt shear failures similar to those

reported for series A were obtained for tests H and again with novisible concrete cracking. However, in L a horizontalcrack appeared on both faces of the at 88 % of the ultimate load for test A. These cracks just above the steel link located immediately below

test column were the



3 300

f Q



6 Deflection: mm



Fig. 8. Load-defection curves for the four tests in series A Magazine o f Concrete Research, 1995, 47, No. 171


Sleeved bolt connections in precast concrete frames

joint level. During the following load increment, both cracks lengthened and propagated at a shallow angle to their initial direction, and joined together across the column sides. This was followed by the appearance of a crack up the columns vertical centreline, propagating from both ends of the sleeve. These vertical cracks extended almost to the base and top of the column as failure approached. Sudden large deformations showing lateral expansion were recorded along the column sides as soon as this cracking occurred.The above result emphasized the effect of the concrete confinement at the column face by pressure from the brackets.This confining pressure provided a significant enhancement of the concrete compressive strength, which delayed cracking and crushing in the.critica1 zone, and thereby inhibited this mode of failure in tests H and M. When the bracket was removed, there was again crushing and spalling of the concrete, extending to a depth of 90- 100 mm below the sleeve invert on both column faces. the lowest rotational rigidity whilejoint 4 has the highest. The almost flat region in the joint 1 curve indicates a continuous bracket rotation during shear and tension yielding of the bolt immediately prior to failure. For the two-bolts joint, the resulting ultimateload capacity was found to be about 1 e 7 times that of the singlebolt joint. The three-bolts joint provided anultimate strength almost2 - 6 times thatof the single-boltjoint. The corresponding figure for a four-bolts joint is 2 - 8 . With high-strength concrete, the joint failure mode was governed by the bolts yielding in shear. If weaker concrete is used, as was the case for test series B, there isan increased likelihood that local crushing beneath the sleeves will permit the sleeves to distort intoanovoid crosssection with a smaller invert radius. This increases the lateral forces, and verticalcracks in the concrete are more likely to develop beneath the joint as seen in test L. In these tests, most of the bolts showed a significant shear deformation at their loaded ends prior to failure. The bolts were made of sufficiently hard material to have retained their circular cross-section. However, the steel sleeves yielded substantially at their ends to form ovoid cross-sections.

Other test results Supplementary tests on control specimens of the material used for test 1 in series A were carried out on the same day as the column tests, and gaveaverage values of 61 .90N/mm2 and 4.05 N/mrn2forthedirect compressive and indirect tensile strengths respectively. Similar control tests for series B gave an average concrete compressive strength of 3 0 - 5 N/mm2, and indirect tensile strength of 3.00 N/mm2, on the day of testing. Four tensile tests on the high-yield steelbars used as links in the column produced an average strength of 450.0 N/rnm2. The static friction test results gave friction coefficients that were independent of the load, yet varied according to the contact conditions. The original black steel bracket used in tests A and H gave a friction coefficient of 0-66. However, the machined steel face on the backofthe bracket used in test M gave a reduced value of 0.52. The bracket on painted steel packing, which formed the contact in test L, registered a coefficient of just 0 . 2 .

Further work
There is a need for a more detailed study of bolt and sleeve distortions, to allow for construction tolerances. The single-boltjoint showed a lower stiffness at all stages of loading than other joints. The addition of a bolt to a joint increased its stiffness, but by a decreasing amount for each successive bolt. This is clear when curves of joints 3 and 4 are compared in Fig. 8, where the stiffness of the latter is only slightly higher. The curve for joint 4 showed a slight gain in stiffness during the application of load. The probable reason for this stiffness change is that the bolt tolerances will have delayed the full number of boltsfrom being in contact with their mounting sleeves during the early stages of loading. This behaviour also explains the low initial vertical component of force per unit vertical deflection until either the bolt or the sleeve has distorted sufficiently for its vertical diameter to coincide with the sleeve invert. A more comprehensive study is also needed of the variation of strength when the geometry of the bolt holes is varied. An increase in joint strength can obviously be achieved by increasing the number of bolts per joint. However, two factors reduce the benefit gained from the additional bolts. First, the second and subsequent bolts do not bear initially on the invert of their sleeves due to the bolt hole tolerances, and additional lateral forces are produced. This reduction in benefit appears to be approximately 30% of the second bolt load capacity and 10% of subsequent bolt capacities. Second, there is a further reduction of the additional load capacity of about 33% if additional bolts are directly beneath each other. This reduction is caused by the overlap of the stress contours for the upper bolt with those for the lower bolt.
Magazine of Concrete Research, 1995, 41, No. 171

Joint shear stiffness is characterized by the slope of the experimental load-deflection curve. Curves shown in Fig. 8 illustrate the difference in stiffness for the four joints tested. Each curve was obtained by taking an average of the top bolt deflections for that joint. There is a clear trend for an increase in shear stiffness as the number of bolts in the joint is increased. Joint moment stiffness is characterizedby the momentrotation curve. A moment M is created at the concrete face due to the eccentricity of the load from the column. This moment, which tends to extend the top bolts, is responsible for the plate rotation 9.Values of M and were computed, and are plotted in Fig. 9. These curves show that the number of bolts per joint also has an effect on the joints rotational rigidity. Once again, joint 1 has


Mohamed and Jolly

Rotation: mrad

Fig. 9. Moment-rotation curves f o r the tests in series A and B

The reductions quoted apply tothe specific configurations tested, which are identical to those used by one particular design consultancy. There is potential for developing a more cost-efficient joint if the steel link density is reduced. Steel links in the joint region inhibit the formation of vertical cracks and are therefore subjected to tensile stresses which may be high enough to cause yield. Vertical cracking and failure of the concrete column ensues. A substantial reduction of link area was necessary to permit this type of failure in the joints tested. Thicker sleeve walls and stronger sleeve material are variations for further study to inhibit the development of lateral forces in the column. In addition to the experiments described in this paper, finite element modelsare being developed that can predict the different joints' behaviour upto failure. They represent a potential meansof comparing the strengths of joints with different geometries without resorting to large numbers of expensive and time-consuming tests. Further details of

these modellingtechniques, which the authors believe are also applicable to resin-bonded and expanding anchor bolts, will be given in a subsequent paper.

INSTITUTION OF STRUCTURALENGINEERS. Manual on structural joints in precast concrete. London, 1978. 2. JOLLY C . K. and PARSAA. Application of finite element design to precast concrete beams. Proc. 2nd Int. Conf on Computer Aided Analysis and Designo f Concrete Struciures.Pineridge Press, New York, 1990, pp. 61-76. 3 . ANSYS - Engineering analysis system theoretical manual, version 4.2. Swanson Analysis Systems, Pennsylvania, PA, 1985. 4. MOHAMED S. A. M. Behaviour of sleevedboltconnections in precastconcretebuilding frames. PhDthesis, University of 1. Southampton,1992.

Discussion contributions on this paper should reach the editor by 29 December 1995

Magazine of Concrete Research, 1995, 47, No. 171