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1. Penetrometer apparatus complying with the requirements of BS2000,part 49.

2. Cone for the penetrometer, the main features of which are as follows :

 Stainless steel or duralumin

 Smooth and polished surface

 Length approximately 35 mm and cone angle 30

 Sharp point and mass of cone and slidng shaft 80g

3. Sharpness gauge for cone, consisting of a small steel plate 1.75 mm ±0.1 mm thick with

1.5mm ±0.02mm diameter hole accurately drilled and reamed.

4. Flat grass plate, about 500mm square and 10mm thick ,with beveled edges and rounded


5. Metal cups ,of a brass or aluminium alloy, 55m diameter and 40mm deep. The rim must

be parallel to the base, which must be flat.

6. Wash bottle containing distilled water.

7. Metal straight-edges, about 100mm long.

8. Palette knives or spatulas (two 200mm long ×30mm, one 1500mm long×25mm, one

100mm long×20mm )

9. Moisture content apparatus.

d) Procedure


1. A sample was place an about 300g, soil was passing 425µm test sieve on the glass plate.

If the plastic limit test was also to be done, set aside a small portion in a sealed bag or

container before adding too much water, and while the soil was still firm.

2. Checked apparatus:

a) The cone were designed for testing soils must be fitted.

b) Mass of cone and stem 80±0.1g. this was most important. The stem was hollow,

so that lead shot can be insterted to bring the cone and stem assembly to the

specified mass.

c) Sharpness pf the cone point can be checked by pushing the tip into the hole of

the sharpness gauge plate. If the points cannot be felt when brushed lightly with

the tip of the finger, the cone should be replace.

d) The cone must fall freely when the release button is pushed and the sliding shaft

must be clean and dry.

e) The penetriation dial indicator should be calibrated by inserting gauge blocks

between the stem of yhe indicator and the top of the cone sliding shaft.

Alternatively, calibrated vernier calipers could be used.

f) The apparatus must be stand on a firm level bench.

g) If the apparatus was fitted with an automatic timing device, thus should

automatically lock the cone shaft assembly 5 seconds after pressing the butoon

which release it. This time interval should be verified against a reference timer.

3. The soil pste was mix on the glass plate with the spatulas for at least 10mm. Some soils,

espeacially heavy clays, may need a longer mixing time up to 4mm. If necessary add

more distilled or de-ioised water to give a cone penetration of about 15mm and mix well

in. It is essential to obtain a uniform distribution of water throughout the sample.

4. Was placing in cup:

a) The soil paste was oressed against the side of the cup to avoid trapping air.

b) The paste was pressed more well into the bottom of the cup, without creaing an


c) The middle and press was fill welldown. The small spatula was convenient fot

these operations.

d) The top surface finally smoothed off level with the rim using the straight-edge.

5. The cone and shaft were locked unit near the upper end of its travel and lower the

supporting assembly carefully so that the tip of the cone is within a few mm of the
surface of the soil in the cup. The cone was hold, the release button was pressed and the

height of the cone was adjust so that the tip just touches the soil surface.

6. The stem of the dial gauge was lowered to make contact with the top of the cone shaft.

The reading of the dial gauge was recorded to the nearest 0.1mm (R1)

7. The cone was allowed to fall by pressing the button, which must be held in the pressed

position for 5 seconds, timed with a seconds timer or watch. If an-autotimer were used it

was necessary only to press the button and was released it immediately. Automatic re-

locking of the stem was indicated by by a click. The dial reading was recorded to the

nearest 0.1mm(R1). The difference was recorded between R1 and R2 as the cone


8. The was lifted out and cleaned it carefully. Avoided touching the sliding stem. A little

more wet soil were added to the cup, without entrapping air, smooth off and repeat stages

5,6 and 7.

9. The moisture content sample were take (±10g) from the area penetrated by the cone.

10. From the graph the moisture content corresponding to a cone penetration of 20mm was

read off the nearest 0.1%. the results was reported to the nearest whole number as the

liquid limit(cone test). The plastic limit and plastic index were usually reported with the

liquid limit.
(1) (2)

(3) (4)


According to Rolling and Rollings(1996) common laboratory error associated with the cone

penetrometer test include:

 Nonrepresentative sample (the soil sample must be the same for both the liquid and the

plastic limit test)

 Improperly prepared and cured samples.

 Incoorect water content determination.


1. Take about 20g og thoroughly mixed portion of the material passing through 425 micron

425 micron I.S sieve.

2. Mix it thoroughly with distilled water in the evaporating dish till the soil mass becomes

plastic enough to be easily molded with fingers.

3. Take about 10g of the plastic soil mass and roll its between fingers and glass plate with

just sufficient pressure to roll the mass into a threaded of uniform diameter throughout its


4. Continue rolling till you get a threaded of 3mm diameter.

5. Continue the process until the threaded crumbles then the diameter is 3mm.

6. Collect the pieces of the crumbled thread in air tight container for moisture content


7. Repeat the test to at least 3 times and take the average of the results.

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