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UNIT I

CHAPTER

Two-Dimensional Force System


1.1 INTRODUCTION

The science which deals with the state of rest or the state of motion of the bodies under the action of
forces is called mechanics. The application of this science to actual problems is termed as Engineering
Mechanics or Applied Mechanics. In this chapter, laws of mechanics are presented then the terms force
and moment of force are explained. Transfer of a force to its parallel position is an important concept
in the analysis of several engineering problems. Hence this concept is discussed. After grouping the
system of forces into various suitable categories, the analysis of system of forces in a plane is taken up.
The analysis involves finding the resultant and considering the equilibrium of various bodies encountered
in engineering problems. The procedure is illustrated by taking a number of practical problems.
1.2 LAWS OF MECHANICS

There are six fundamental laws of mechanics as listed below:


Newtons first law
Newtons second law
Newtons third law
Newtons law of gravitation
Law of transmissibility
Parallelogram law of forces.
1.2.1

Newtons First Law


It states that everybody continues in its state of rest or of uniform motion in a straight line unless it is
compelled by an external agency acting on it. This leads to the definition of force as the external agency
which changes or tends to change the condition of rest or uniform linear motion of the body.
1.2.2

Newtons Second Law

It states that the rate of change of momentum of a body is directly proportional to the impressed force
and it takes place in the direction of the force acting on it. Thus according to this law
Force rate of change of momentum. But momentum = mass velocity
As mass do not change,
Force mass rate of change of velocity
i.e., Force mass acceleration
...(1.1)
Fma
2

TWO-DIMENSIONAL FORCE SYSTEM

It states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Consider the two bodies in contact
with each other. Let one body apply a force F on another. According to this law, the second body
develops a reactive force R which is equal in magnitude to force F and acts in the line same as F but in
the opposite direction. Figure 1.1 shows the action of the ball and the reaction from the floor. In
Fig. 1.2 the action of the ladder on the wall and the floor and the reactions from the wall and floor are
shown.

Rreaction
Faction R = F
(a)

(b)

Fig. 1.1

F1
R1

R1 = F1

R2
F2
R2 = F2

Fig. 1.2

1.2.4 Newtons Law of Gravitation

Every body attracts the other body. The force of attraction between any two bodies is directly proportional to their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. According
to this law the force of attraction between the bodies of mass m1 and mass m2 at distance d as shown
as Fig. 1.3 is
m1 m2
...(1.2)
F = G
d2
where G is the constant of proportionality and is known as constant of gravitation.

m1
d

Fi
g. 1
Fig
1..3

2
m2

CHAPTER 1

1.2.3 Newtons Third Law

ENGINEERING MECHANICS

1.2.5

Law of Transmissibility of Force


According to this law the state of rest or motion of the rigid body is unaltered if a force acting on
the body is replaced by another force of the same magnitude and direction but acting anywhere on
the body along the line of action of the replaced force.
Let F be the force acting on a rigid body at point A as shown in Fig. 1.4. According to the law
of transmissibility of force, this force has the same effect on the state of body as the force F applied
at point B.
In using law of transmissibility of forces it should be
F
carefully noted that it is applicable only if the body can be
A
treated as rigid. In this text, the engineering mechanics is
restricted to study of state of rigid bodies and hence this
B
F
law is frequently used. Same thing cannot be done in the
subject solid mechanics where the bodies are treated as
deformable and internal forces in the body are studied.
1.2.6

Fig. 1.4

Parallelogram Law of Forces

The parallelogram law of forces enables us to determine the single force called resultant which can
replace the two forces acting at a point with the same effect as that of the two forces. This law was
formulated based on experimental results. Though Stevinces employed it in 1586, the credit of
presenting it as a law goes to Varignon and Newton (1687). This law states that if two forces acting
simultaneously on a body at a point are represented in magnitude and direction by the two adjacent
sides of a parallelogram, their resultant is represented in magnitude and direction by the diagonal
of the parallelogram which passes through the point of intersection of the two sides representing the
forces.
In Fig. 1.5 the force F1 = 4 units and force F2 = 3 units are acting on a body at point A. Then
to get resultant of these forces, parallelogram ABCD is constructed such that AB is equal to 4 units
to linear scale and AC equal to 3 units. Then according to the law, the diagonal AD represents the
resultant in the direction and magnitude. Thus the resultant of the forces F1 and F2 on the body is
equal to units corresponding to AB in the direction to F1.
C

F2 = 3 units

D
R

q
3

F1 = 4 units

q
a
A

(a)

R ond to
sp
orre
ts c
i
n
U

(c)

Fig. 1.5

AD

4
(b)

TWO-DIMENSIONAL FORCE SYSTEM

From Newtons first law we arrived at the definition of a force as the external agency which changes
or tends to change the condition of rest or uniform linear motion of the body and from Newtons
second law we get the equation,
Force Mass Acceleration
Force = k Mass Acceleration
...(1.3)

In System International (SI) unit of force is defined as that force which causes 1 kg mass to move
with an acceleration of 1m/sec2 and is termed as 1 Newton. Hence the constant of proportionality
k in Eqn. 1.3 becomes unity. Now, unit of force can be derived from Eqn. 1.3 as
Unit of force = kg m/sec2
= kg m/sec2
In MKS system, the unit of force is defined as that force which makes a mass of 1 kg to move
with gravitational acceleration g m/sec2 at earth surface. This unit of force is called kilogramme
-weight or kg-wt. Gravitational acceleration is 9.81 m/sec2 near the earth surface. Hence
1 kg-wt = 9.81 newtons
...(1.4)
It may be noted that in public usage, kg-wt is called as kg only.
The following prefixes are used in SI system when quantities are too big or too small.
Multiplying Factor

Prefix

Symbol

12

tera

10

giga

10

mega

kilo

10

10 3
10
10

milli

10 6

micro

nano

10
10

12

10 15
10

18

pico

femto

atto

1.4 CHARACTERISTICS OF A FORCE

A force is completely defined only when the following four characteristics are specified:
Magnitude,
Point of application,
Line of action, and
Direction.
In Fig. 1.6, AB is a ladder kept against a wall. At point C, a person weighing 600 N is standing.
The force applied by the person on the ladder has the following characteristics:
Magnitude is 600 N,

CHAPTER 1

1.3 FORCE AND UNIT OF FORCE

ENGINEERING MECHANICS

The point of application is at C which is 2 m from the floor along the ladder,
The line of action is vertical, and
The direction is downward.
600 N
B
C

Fig. 1.6

Note that the magnitude of the force is written near the arrow. The line of the arrow shows the
line of application, and the arrow head represents the point of application and the direction of the
force.
1.5

SCALAR AND VECTOR QUANTITIES

A quantity is said to be scalar if it is completely defined by its magnitude alone. Examples are
length, area and time.
A quantity is said to be vector if it is completely defined only when its magnitude and direction
are specified. Hence, force is a vector. The other examples of vectors are velocity and acceleration.
1.6

SYSTEM OF FORCES

When several forces of different magnitude and direction act upon a body, they constitute a system
of forces. If all the forces in a system lie in a single plane, it is called a coplanar force system. If
the line of action of all the forces in a system pass through a single point it is called a concurrent
force system. In a system of parallel forces all the forces are parallel to each other. If the line of
action of all forces lie along a single line then it is called a collinear force system. Various system
of forces, their characteristics and examples are given in Table 1.1 below.
Table 1.1 System of Forces
Force System

Characteristic

Examples

Collinear forces

Line of action of all the forces act


along the same line.

Forces on a rope in a tug of


war.

Coplanar
parallel forces

All forces are parallel to each other


and lie in a single plane.

System of forces acting on a


beam subjected to vertical
loads (including reactions).

Coplanar
like parallel forces

All forces are parallel to each other,


lie in a single plane and are acting in
the same direction.

Weight of a stationary train


on a rail when the track is
straight.

Contd.

Coplanar
concurrent forces

Line of action of all forces pass


through a single point and forces
lie in the same plane.

Forces on a rod resting against


a wall.

Coplanar
nonconcurrent forces

All forces do not meet at a point,


but lie in a single plane.

Forces on a ladder resting


against a wall when a person
stands on a rung which is not
at its centre of gravity.

Non-coplanar
parallel forces

All the forces are parallel to each


other, but not in the same plane.

The weight of benches in a


class room.

Non-coplanar
concurrent forces

All forces do not lie in the same


plane, but their lines of action pass
through a single point.

A tripod carrying a camera.

Non-coplanar
non-concurrent forces

All forces do not lie in the same


plane and their lines of action do

Forces acting on a moving bus.

not pass through a single point.

1.7 MOMENT OF A FORCE

Moment of a force about a point is the measure of its rotational effect. Moment is defined as the
product of the magnitude of the force and the perpendicular distance of the point from the line of
action of the force. The point about which the moment is considered is called moment centre and
the perpendicular distance of the point from the line of action of the force is called moment arm.
Referring to Fig. 1.7, if d1 is the perpendicular distance of point 1 from the line of action of force
F, the moment of F about point 1 is given by
...(1.5)
M 1 = F d1
Similarly, moment about point 2 is given by
...(1.6)
M 2 = F d2
If the moment centre 3 lies on the line of action of the force F, the moment arm is zero and
hence,
...(1.7)
M3 = F 0 = 0
Thus, it may be noted that if a point lie on the line of action of a force, the moment of the force
about that point is zero.
F
The moment of a force has got direction also. In Fig. 1.7
d
1
2x d
it may be noted that M1 is clockwise and M2 is anticlockwise.
2
x1
To find the direction of the moment, imagine that the line of
x 3
action of the force is connected to the point by a rigid rod
pinned at the point and is free to move around the point. The
direction of the rotation indicates the direction of the moFig. 1.7
ment.
If the force is taken in Newton unit and the distance in millimetre, the unit of moment will be
N-mm. Commonly used units of moment in engineering are kN-m, N-m, kN-mm and N-mm.
1.8 VARIGNONS THEOREM

French mathematician Varignon (16541722) gave the following theorem which is also known as
principle of moments:

CHAPTER 1

TWO-DIMENSIONAL FORCE SYSTEM

ENGINEERING MECHANICS

The algebraic sum of the moments of a system of coplanar forces about a moment centre in their
plane is equal to the moment of their resultant force about the same moment centre.
Proof: Referring to Fig. 1.8 let R be the resultant of forces P1 and P2 and B the moment centre.
Let d, d1 and d2 be the moment arms of the forces, R, P1 and P2, respectively from the moment centre
B. Then in this case, we have to prove that:
Rd = P1 d1 + P2 d2
Join AB and consider it as y axis and draw x axis at right angles to it at A [Fig. 1.8(b)]. Denoting
by the angle that R makes with x axis and noting that the same angle is formed by perpendicular
to R at B with AB1, we can write:
Rd = R AB cos
= AB (R cos)
= AB Rx
...(a)
where Rx denotes the component of R in x direction.
d2

y
R

d1

P2

P2

q
A
A
(a)

P1

(b)

B1
P1
x

Fig. 1.8

Similarly, if P1x and P2x are the components of P1 and P2, in x direction, respectively, then
...(b)
P1 d1 = AB P1x
...(c)
and
P2 d2 = AB P2x
From Eqns. (b) and (c)
P1 d1 + P2 d2 = AB (P1x + P2x)
...(d)
= AB Rx
since, the sum of x components of individual forces is equal to the x component of the resultant
R. From Eqn. (a) and (d), we can conclude:
Rd = P1 d1 + P2 d2
If a system of forces consists of more than two forces, the above result can be extended as given
below:
Let P1, P2, P3 and P4 be four concurrent forces and R be their resultant. Let d1, d2, d3, d4 and
a be the distances of line of action of forces P1, P2, P3, P4 and R, respectively from the moment
centre O, [Ref. Fig. 1.9].
If R1 is the resultant of P1 and P2 and its distance from O is a1, then applying Varignons
theorem:
R 1 a1 = P 1 d1 + P 2 d2

If R2 is the resultant of R1 and P3 (and hence of P1, P2 and P3) and its distance from O is a2,
then applying Varignons theorem:
R2a2 = R1a1 + P3d3
= P1 d1 + P2 d2 + P3 d3
d

d2

P3

P2

d1
R
P1
P4

Fig. 1. 9

Now considering R2 and P4, we can write:


Ra = R2 a2 + P4 d4
Since R is the resultant of R2 and P4 (i.e., P1, P2, P3 and P4).
Ra = P1d1 + P2d2 + P3d3 + P4d4
...(1.8)

Thus, the moment of the resultant of a number of forces about a moment centre is equal to the
sum of the moments of its component forces about the same moment centre.
Example 1. Find the moment of 100 N force acting at B about point A as shown in Fig. 1.10.
Solution: 100 N force may be resolved into its horizontal components as 100 cos 60 and vertical
component 100 sin 60. From Varignons theorem, moment of 100 N force about the point A is equal
to sum of the moments of its components about A.

Fig. 1.10

Taking clockwise moment as positive,


MA = 100 cos 60 500 100 sin 60 400
= 25, 000 34, 641.02 = 9641.02 N-mm
= 9641.016 N-mm Anticlockwise.
Ans.
Example 2. What will be the y intercept of the 5000 N force if its moment about A is
8000 N-m in Fig. 1.11?

CHAPTER 1

TWO-DIMENSIONAL FORCE SYSTEM

10

ENGINEERING MECHANICS
y

5000 N
C

Py

Px

y
A

Fig. 1.11

Solution: 5000 N force is shifted to a point B along its line of action (law of transmissibility) and
it is resolved into its x and y components (Px and Py as shown in Fig. 1.11).
Px = 5000 cos = 5000

4
= 4000 N
5

3
= 3000 N.
5
By Varignons theorem, moment of 5000 N force about A is equal to moment of its component
forces about the same point.
8000 = 4000 y + 3000 0

y = 2 m.
Ans.
and

Py = 5000 sin = 5000

1.9 COUPLE

Two parallel forces equal in magnitude and opposite in direction and separated by a definite
distance are said to form a couple. The sum of the forces forming a couple is zero, since they are
equal and opposite which means the translatory effect of the couple is zero.
An interesting property can be observed if we consider rotational effect of a couple about any
point. Let the magnitude of the forces forming the couple be P and the perpendicular distance
between the two forces be d. Consider the moment of the two forces constituting a couple about point
1 as shown in Fig. 1.12 (a). Let the moment be M1 then,
M1 = Pd1 + Pd2
= P (d1 + d2) = Pd
Now, consider the moment of the forces about point 2 which is outside the two forces as shown
in Fig. 1.12 (b). Let M2 be the moment.
Then,
M2 = Pd3 Pd4
= P (d3 d4) = Pd
Similarly it can be seen that
M3 = Pd
Thus at any point
M = Pd
...(1.9)