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1 Introduction

From this point on, all of the methods in this book will be for the analysis of indeterminate systems

exactly. We will not have to make any assumptions in addition to those general assumptions which

underlie all of the analyses that we are doing (i.e. the Bernoulli-Euler beam assumptions -

see Chapter 5). The approximate methods described in Chapter 6 relied on a group of reasonably good

assumptions to convert an indeterminate frame into a determinate frame that we can solve using

equilibrium equations; however, the methods to come will not work this way. They will instead use both

equilibrium and compatibility to solve indeterminate structures (see Chapter 1).

This chapter will introduce the force method which is also often called the method of consistent

deformations. This method relies on the compatibility of the structure to give us extra information that

we need for the analysis. This extra information will make up for the fact that we cannot solve

indeterminate systems using equilibrium alone. It will also make heavy use of the concept

of superposition that was introduced in Chapter 5.

Let's start with a simple indeterminate system that is only 1°1° indeterminate. Such a system is shown

in Figure 8.1. This system is a beam with a pin support and two roller supports, giving it four reaction

components, but only three equations of equilibrium. We cannot find the moment diagram for this

beam using any of the methods that we have learned so far.

The way that we will deal with the beam in Figure 8.1 is to break the problem up into determinate parts

(using superposition) and then reconciling those parts with each other using compatibility. Recall that,

from the beam's point of view, there is no real difference between a load caused by an external force,

and a load caused by a reaction force. The only difference between the two is that we know that at the

reaction force location, the deformation/rotation associated with that reaction component is zero. The

reaction component keeps the structure in place, either by restraining a displacement, or by restraining

a rotation. This known displacement rotation at the reaction component location gives us some

additional information about how the structure behaves, beyond what we can tell about the structure

from equilibrium alone.

For example, in Figure 8.1 the top diagram shows the beam with the reaction, and the second diagram

from the top shows the associated free body diagram for that beam subjected to the given external

forces. The top diagram gives us additional information that the second diagram (the free body diagram)

doesn't: namely, that the beam is restrained from moving vertically at point A, C, and E. This is a type

of compatibility information. This extra compatibility information is not required when we are analysing

the shears and moments in a determinate beam; however, when we are analysing an indeterminate

beam, we can put it to use.

Figure 8.1: The Force Method - Using Superposition to separate out a Redundant Reaction Force

Component

The way that we will deal with the beam in Figure 8.1 is to break the problem up into determinate parts

(using superposition) and then reconciling those parts with each other using compatibility. Recall that,

from the beam's point of view, there is no real difference between a load caused by an external force,

and a load caused by a reaction force. The only difference between the two is that we know that at the

reaction force location, the deformation/rotation associated with that reaction component is zero. The

reaction component keeps the structure in place, either by restraining a displacement, or by restraining

a rotation. This known displacement rotation at the reaction component location gives us some

additional information about how the structure behaves, beyond what we can tell about the structure

from equilibrium alone. For example, in Figure 8.1 the top diagram shows the beam with the reaction,

and the second diagram from the top shows the associated free body diagram for that beam subjected

to the given external forces. The top diagram gives us additional information that the second diagram

(the free body diagram) doesn't: namely, that the beam is restrained from moving vertically at point A,

C, and E. This is a type of compatibility information. This extra compatibility information is not required

when we are analysing the shears and moments in a determinate beam; however, when we are

analysing an indeterminate beam, we can put it to use.

To take advantage of this extra compatibility information at the reaction supports, we will divide our

free body diagram in Figure 8.1 into two separate systems using superposition. To start with, we will

choose one of the reaction components to be our redundant force. We will treat this reaction

component in a special way, by considering what would happen if the support reaction wasn't there, but

we still had the force of that reaction. For the system shown in Figure 8.1, the roller reaction at point C

has been chosen as the redundant force. So, we remove the support, but keep the equivalent reaction

force CyCy, which we will now call our redundant force (although we don't know the value

of CyCy yet). This means that in our analyses, the beam will be allowed to displace at point C. The

support reactions at points A and E will remain as they were. For this beam, by removing the support

reaction at C and then treating the equivalent reaction force as an external force, we have changed

our 1°1° indeterminate system into a determinate system. This new determinate system, without the

reaction support associated with the redundant force is called the primary system. Later, we will have a

way to bring the compatibility at C (the fact that there is actually a reaction support there) back into

play.

So, without the support at C, and treating the reaction force CyCy as if it was an external force, we can

divide the full behaviour of the beam into two different systems using superposition as shown

in Figure 8.1. One system will have the real external forces PP and QQ ('external forces without

redundant' in the figure), and the other system will have only the redundant force CyCy ('redundant

force only' in the figure). Both of these systems will be allowed to deflect at point C, but not at points A

and E (the supports at A and E are still considered to exist). For each system, the forces on it will cause

reaction forces at A and E. The superposition of these two systems will give us back the full free body

diagram for the beam, and the sum of the reaction forces for the two systems will give us the total

reaction forces for the full beam system.

Why are we doing all of this? Because now we can use the superposition of the deformations of the two

separate systems to find the redundant force (CyCy) which is our true reaction force at point C in the

system. Recall from the previous discussion on superposition (see Chapter 5) that superposition applies

to both forces/moments and deformations of a structure. So, the deformation of the system with only

the external forces (without the redundant force) summed with the deformation of the system with only

the redundant force will equal the full deformation of the real full beam. This is illustrated in Figure 8.2.

Figure 8.2: The Force Method Superposition of Displacements Caused by External forces and the Redundant

Reaction Force Component

The top diagram in Figure 8.2 shows the deformation of the full indeterminate beam with the reaction

at point C still in place. Of course, we know that the vertical deformation at point C (ΔCΔC) is equal to

zero, as shown. Once we eliminate the support at C, giving us our primary system, we can apply the two

components of the superimposed system and measure the deflection at point C. For the first one, we

only apply the external reactions PP and QQ to the primary system. Since the primary system is

determinate, we can easily find the vertical displacement at point C (ΔC0ΔC0) using one of the methods

from Chapter 5, assuming that we are given the magnitudes of the forces PPand QQ. For the second of

the superimposed systems, only the redundant force CyCy is applied to the primary system with the

goal of determining the vertical displacement that the redundant force causes at point C (ΔCCΔCC). Of

course, unlike for PP and QQ, we don't actually know the value of the redundant force, it is what we are

trying to find.

Superposition and compatibility together give us one extra piece of information. The two

superimposed displacements at point C (ΔC0ΔC0 and ΔCCΔCC) must add together to get the total

displacement at point C (ΔCΔC) in the real beam, which we know must be equal to zero since there

is actually a vertical support at that location. This means that:

This equation may be called our compatibility condition for this problem.

We can't directly use this compatibility condition to solve for CyCy because we don't have a

readily available method for calculating the force in a structure that is associated with a known

deflection (all of the methods from Chapter 5 find the deflection caused by a given force). But, we

can find how much deflection at C (part of ΔCCΔCC) would be caused by each unit or

each 1kN1kNpiece of the force CyCy. We find this by applying a unit load at point C in the same

direction as the redundant, and then finding the deflection at C caused by that unit force. This gives

us the amount of deflection at C caused by each 0kN0kN of CyCy and is called the flexibility

coefficient (fCCfCC). This flexibility coefficient has units of length divided by force

(e.g. 0mm/kN0mm/kN). So, the total deflection caused by redundant force CyCy is equal to:

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