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You are on page 1of 5

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Chris Hendy

Typical external forces acting on the diaphragm in a rectangular box are shown in

Figure 1. These uneven forces can be split into a torsional case and symmetric shear

case as shown in Figure 2 and 3 respectively. Figures 2 and 3 also show the shear

flows acting on the edges of the diaphragm. These result from the difference in the

shear flows acting in the box walls each side of the diaphragm. The shear flows from

vertical shear in the box walls in Figure 3 can be calculated using the usual

q VA y / I

approach.

The diaphragm can, in principle, be designed from the shear stresses and direct

stresses resulting from the combination of actions applied by the two cases in Figure 2

and 3. In reality, the boundary shear stresses are unlikely to be distributed according

to this elastic theory of the box cross-section because of the sudden discontinuity

which occurs at a diaphragm. Accurate determination of stresses however cannot

be predicted by simple hand methods such as these, which for example wont predict

the high concentration of shear stress that can occur at the bottom of the web and

diaphragm with hard bearings. The difficulty of calculating stresses is the reason for

the extensive guidance given in BS5400 Part 3 2000.

Despite the above, the calculation method in BS5400 Part 3 2000 still uses Figures 2

and 3 as a basis. Direct stresses can be calculated by first determining the moment

acting on a vertical section. Considering such a section at distance x from a web, but

outside a bearing, the moment from the torsional case in Figure 2 is:

M T qD x qx D 2qx D

T

x

B

(1)

M R q av ,R D x q av ,R x D 2q av ,R x D Rx

(2)

9.17.5.2.3, which accounts for non-uniform boundary stresses when not assessed

accurately. A factor of 2.0 is conservative as, in this case, it conservatively assumes

that the horizontal shear stress acting on the diaphragm is equal to the average vertical

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Chris Hendy

shear stress (when it is actually less) and that it remains constant at this value along

the top flange (when Figure 3 shows it reduces). For a more normal box, having deck

cantilevers, the shear flow due to vertical shear is as shown in Figure 4 and the value

of 2 therefore becomes even more conservative because of the reverse shear flow in

the cantilever.

The total design moment is then, from (1) and (2):

T

M MT M R R x

B

(3)

This moment corresponds to that in the the first part of clause 9.17.6.2.3 and is

applied to an I section comprising the diaphragm plate (forming the web) and a

width of attached box top and bottom flange (forming the flanges). The direct

stresses are calculated from this moment and cross-section.

B

R1

R2

For vertical sections inside the bearings, the moment will contain a component from

the bearing reaction and this needs to be added into equation (3). Also the effect of

any loadings from traffic applied directly to the diaphragm should be considered in

the moment equilibrium. These lead to other terms in clause 9.17.6.2.3.

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25/1/06

Chris Hendy

Shear stresses between a bearing and the adjacent web can be calculated from the

shear flow

q R ,av D

De t d

holes and cut outs and t d is the diaphragm thickness. Elsewhere, the shear can, in

theory, be calculated from vertical equilibrium using Figures 2 and 3. Formulae in

BS5400 Part 3 clause 9.17.6.2.4 however make allowance for uneven seating on the

bearings so the results there cannot be obtained solely from the statics of figures 2 and

3.

If there are access holes in the diaphragm, as in Figure 1, the zones underneath and

above the holes may be need to be designed for secondary bending arising from the

shear passing through the reduced section depth. Guidance on when to consider this

is given in BS5400 Part 3 clause 9.17.2.8 i.e. if the clear distance above or below the

hole (measured to either the flange or a cut out in the diaphragm plate if less) exceeds

0.7 times the hole width.

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25/1/06

Chris Hendy

qT T / 2 A0 T / 2BD

qT T / 2 A0 T / 2BD

x

Approximation to peak shear flow is

q av ,R R / 2D

x

D

R/2

R/2

R/2

R/2

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Chris Hendy

x

D

R/2

R/2

R/2

R/2

q av ,R R / 2 D

Figure 4 Shear flow due to uniform shear component in a box with cantilevers

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