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(A) Analysis plane trusses using

(i) the method of joints and
(ii) the method of sections.

(B) Identify tension and compression members, zero force members by method of

1. Plane Truss
A truss is an assemblage of straight members connected at their ends by flexible
connections to form a rigid configuration. The members are usually formed into
triangular patterns to produce an efficient, lightweight and load bearing structure.

Although joints are typically formed by welding or bolting truss bars to gusset plates,
in most structural analysis, the members are commonly assumed to be connected at the
joints by frictionless pins. Since no moment can be transferred through a frictionless
pin joint, truss members are assumed to carry only axial force either tension or
compression. All the members of a truss and the applied loads lie in a single plane,
the truss is called a plane truss.

The upper and lower members of a truss, which can be either horizontal or sloping, are
called top and bottom chords. The chords are connected by vertical and diagonal


Figure1 Typical Truss Structures




2. Basic Truss Element

The simplest internally stable plane truss can be formed
f by connecting three members
triangle. This triangular truss is called the basic
at their ends by hinges to form a triangle.
truss element.

ngular truss formed by connecting four members at their

In contrast, a rectangular t ends by
hinges is internally unstable because it will change
change its shape and collapse when subject
to a general system of coplanar forces.

re 3 Stable and Unstable Configurations


Example 1

Determine the truss reaction forces.

30 kN
30 kN

20 kN


5m 5m 5m 5m


30 kN
30 kN

20 kN

5m 5m 5m 5m

X = 0, HA = 20 kN

Take moment about A,

30*10 + 30*15 20*2.5 VB*20 = 0
VB = 35 kN

Y = 0, 30 + 30 = VA + VB
VA = 25 kN


3. Assumptions for Analysis of Trusses

All members are connected only at their ends by frictionless hinges in plane

All loads and support reactions are applied only at the joints.

The centroid axis of each member coincides with the line connecting the centers
of the adjacent joints.

Figure5 Truss Elements Subjected to Tension and Compression

4. Methods for Analysis of Plane Trusses

The member forces in a statically determinate truss can be found by making use of the
equations of equilibrium. The process is to consider different free-body diagrams of
parts of the structures.

The two common methods are:

(i) Method of Joint
(ii) Method of Section

In practice, it is often convenient to use a combination of the two methods. The key
is to choose the most convenient free-body diagram.


4.1 Method of Joint

If a truss is in equilibrium, then each of its joints must also be in equilibrium. Hence,
the Method of Joints consists of satisfying the equilibrium conditions Fx = 0 and Fy
= 0 for the forces exerted on the pin at each joint of the truss.

Steps for a truss analysis:

1. In this method, a free-body of each joint is considered, one joint at a time.
2. Two independent equilibrium equations are available for each joint.
3. You should work each time with at a joint with only TWO unknown member
4. Once the unknown forces at one joint are determined, they become known forces
for other joints.

Figure6 Method of Joint


Example 2

Determine the magnitudes and the types of forces in all members of the
following truss.

Step 1
In order to simplify the analysis, we just only consider part of the truss.
Take joint B as free body,

Step 2
If a truss is in equilibrium, then each of its joints must also be in equilibrium.
Fx = 0

FBCcos 45o + 500 = 0

FBC = -707.1kN(Negative value means that we assume the wrong sense of the
member force BC. Member BC should be in

Fy = 0

FBC sin 45o + FBA = 0

-707.1 sin 45o + FBA = 0
FBA = +500 kN (Positive value means that we assume the right sense of the
member force BA. Member BA should be in tension.)


Step 3
Repeat steps 1 to 2 for joint C.

Fx = 0

FAC + (-707.1) cos45o = 0

FAC = 500 kN (Positive value means that we assume the right sense of the
member force AC. Member AC should be in tension.)


Example 3

Determine the magnitudes and the types of forces in all members of the following

Take joint B as free body


Take joint C as free body

Fy = 0
FCD * sin 26.6o+ 115 = 0
FCD = -257 kN(Negative value means that we assume the wrong sense of the
member force CD. Member CD should be in
Fx = 0
FBC + FCD * cos26.6o = 0
FBC + (-257) * cos26.6o = 0
FBC = 230 kN (Positive value means that we assume the right sense of the
member force BC. Member BC should be in tension.)

Take joint B as free body

Fy = 0
FBD = 120 kN (Tension)

Fx =0
FAB = 230 kN (Tension)


Take joint D as free body,

Fx = 0
FDE * cos26.6o +FAD * cos 45o = -257 * cos 26.6o
FDE + 0.8 * FAD = -257

Fy = 0
FDE * sin 26.6o =FAD * sin 45o + 120 +(-257) * sin 26.6o
FDE = 1.58 * FAD +11

By solving the above equations,

FAD = -112.6
112.6 kN (Compression)
FDE = -167 kN (Compression)

Take joint E as free body,

Fy = 0
167) * sin 26.6o = 0
FAE +(-167)
FAE = 75 kN (Tension)

Important notes for using method of joints.

1. It is necessary to choose a joint having two unknowns.
2. Realize that once the force in a member is found from
from the analysis of a joint at one
of its ends, the result can be used to analyze the forces acting on the joint at its
other end.
3. Remember that a member in compression pushes on the the joint and a member in
tension pulls on the joint.


4.2 Method of Section

This method consists of passing an imaginary section through the truss, thus cutting it
into two parts. The three equations of equilibrium may be applied to either one of
these two parts to determine the member forces at the cut section.

Steps for a truss analysis:

1. Make a decision as to how to cut or section the truss through the members where
forces are to be determined.
2. Determine the support reactions.
3. Draw the free body diagram of that part of the sectioned truss, which has the least
number of forces on it.
4. By inspection, attempt to show the unknown member forces acting in the correct
sense of direction.
5. All three equations of equilibrium are available and THREE unknown bar forces
can be determined.
Figure7 Illustration of the Method of Section


Example 4

Determine the magnitudes and the types of force in members DE, EK and JK of the
following truss.

Take moment at point A,
VH *(4*600) = 5*(600*tan 40o) + 8*(2*600)
VH = 5.05 kN

!Fy = 0,
8 = VA + VH
VA =2.95 kN

!Fx = 0,
HA = 5 kN

Take EGHJ as free body,


Take moment at point E

FJK *(600*tan 40o) = 5.05*600
FJK = 6.02 kN (Tension)

Take moment at point K,

FDE *(600*tan 400) + 5.05*600*2 = 0
FDE = -12
12 kN (Compression)

Fy = 0,
FEK * sin 40o = 5.05
FEK = 7.85 kN (Tension)

In applying the method of sections, two decisions are

a made:
(1) Choosing the free body,
(2) Choosing the points for taking moments about.

Figure 8 Examples of Choosing Free Body


In choosing the free-body,

body, remember that the cut does not need to be a straight line.
In choosing a point for taking moment, remember that
tha it can be any point in the plane.
It does not have to be a joint or a support.

4.3 Method of Inspection

Zero Force Members

Truss analysis using the method of joints is greatly
greatly simplified if one is able to
first determine those members that support no loading.loading. The zero zero-force
members of a truss can generally be determined by inspection
inspection of the joints.

Case 1 If no external load is applied to a joint that consists of two bars, the
force in both bars must be zero.

Fx= 0 requires F1 = 0

Fx= 0 requires F2 = 0

ure9 Case 1: Zero Force Members

Case 2 If no external load acts at a joint composed of three bars two of

which are collinear, the force in the bar that is not
n collinear is zero.

ure10 Case 2: Zero Force Members


ure11 Examples of Zero Force Members


ure12 Examples of Zero Force Members


Example 5
Using the method of joints, indicate all the members
members of the truss shown that have zero

Joint D, fig b
Fy= 0, FDC sin = 0, FDC = 0
Fx= 0, FDE + 0 = 0, FDE = 0

Joint E, fig c
Fx= 0 FEF = 0

(Note that FEC = P and an analysis of joint C would yield

a force in member CF.)

Joint H, fig d
Fy= 0 FHB = 0

Joint G, fig e
The roller support at G exerts only an x component of
force on the joint. HenceFFy= 0 FGA = 0

By visualizing the way a truss deflects under given loading, it is often possible to
determine quickly whether the force in a member is tension or compression.


Consider the illustrated example below:

1. The top members are in compression.
2. The bottom tom members are in tension.
3. The diagonals are in tension.
4. The verticals are in compression.
The three zero-force
force members should also be identified easily.

Figure13 Identifying Compression and Tension Members

Figure14 Identifying Compression and Tension Diagonal Members



(a) Basic truss assemblies.

(b) The senses of the forces in the

diagonals can be determined by
first imagining them to be
removed and then ascertaining
their role in preventing the
probable type of truss
deformation that would occur.
Thus, a diagonal placed
between Band F in truss A
would have to be in tension
because its role is to prevent B
and Ffrom
from drawing apart in the
manner indicated.

(c) Final force distribution in

C, compression; T, tension.

(d) A "cable" or "arch" analogy can

also be used to determine the
senses of the forces in different
members. In the truss to the left,
member FBDis is imagined to be
a "cable" and is obviously in
tension. Other members serve
roles related to maintaining
ing the
equilibrium of this basic "cable"

Figure15 Identifying Compression and Tension Members

Forces in truss members: the senses of the forces in

in some simple truss configurations
can be determined through intuitive approaches.

1. R.C. Hibbeler (2005), Mechanics of Materials, SI 2nd
2nd edition, Prentice Hall
2. R.C. Hibbeler (2005), Structural Analysis, SI edition,
edition, Prentice Hall