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Chapter 10 Standard Test Procedures

Tests For Bitumen & Bituminous Materials

10.2 Bitumen Softening Test

10.2.1 General Requirements Scope. An alternative to the penetration test for checking the consistency of
bitumen, is the ring and ball softening point test. The scope of this test is to provide a
method for determining the consistency of semi-solid and bituminous materials in
which the sole or major constituent is either bitumen or tar pitch. Definition. The softening point of a bituminous material is the temperature at which
the material attains a certain degree of softness under specified conditions of test. Equipment. The equipment required to carry the penetration test in the laboratory
are listed below:

a) A steel ball having a diameter of 9.3 mm and weighing 3.5g ± 0.05g.

b) Tapped ring, made of brass (see Figure 10.2.1) shall be used for referee
purposes. For other purposes either a straight ring (Figure 10.2.2) or a
shouldered ring (Figure 10.2.3) may be used.
c) A convenient form of ball contouring guide (Figure 10.2.4)
d) Ring holder made of brass or other metal (see Figure 10.2.5)
e) Bottom plate made of brass or other metal (see Figure 10.2.6)
f) A thermometer (capacity 1000C and accuracy 0.1 0C)
g) A water bath of heat-resistant glass and conforming to the dimensions given in
Figure 10.2.7, the rings being supported in a horizontal position. The bottom of
the bulb of the thermometer shall be level with the bottom of the rings and within
10mm of them but not touching them. A 600 ml beaker is suitable.
h) Distilled water for materials of softening points of 800C and glycerol for materials
of higher softening point.
i) Stirrer.

10.2.2 Sample preparation

The sample obtained in accordance with section 2.7 is heated carefully in an oven or
on a hotplate until it has become sufficiently fluid to pour. When using a hotplate, the
bitumen should be stirred as soon as possible, to prevent local over-heating. In no
case should the temperature be raised more than 900C above the expected softening
point and samples must not be heated for more than 30 minutes. The brass rings to
be used for the test are placed on a flat smooth brass plate, which has been coated
immediately prior to use, with a thin covering of a mixture of glycerin and china clay.
The coating is to prevent the bitumen sticking to the plate.

When the bitumen is sufficiently fluid to pour, the rings should be filled with bitumen.
A tight excess of bitumen should be used. The bitumen is allowed to cool for a
minimum of 30 minutes. If the bitumen is soft at room temperature, it must be cooled
artificially for a further 30 minutes. After cooling the excess material on the top of the
specimen must be cut off cleanly using a moral palette knife.

If further specimens are to be prepared or the test repeated, it is essential to use

clean containers and to use bitumen which has not been previously heated.

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Chapter 10 Standard Test Procedures
Tests For Bitumen & Bituminous Materials

20.5 - 20.7
20.54 - 20.7 DIA
17.4 - 17.6 DIA 15.76 - 15.96
6.25 - 6.45

6.25 - 6.45

15.78 - 15.96 DIA 19 MIN.

18.9 - 19.1 DIA OPTIONAL

Figure 10.2.1 Tapered Ring Material Brass Figure 10.2.2 Straight Ring

22.9 - 23.1

19.74 - 19.94
6.15 - 6.45
2.7 - 2.9

15.76 - 15.96

18.9 - 19.1

Figure 10.2.3 Shoulder Ring

All dimensions in millimetres.

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Chapter 10 Standard Test Procedures
Tests For Bitumen & Bituminous Materials

(FIG. 1 OR 2) TO

Figure 10.2.4 Recommended Form of Ball Centring Guide




6 DIA 5.5 DIA 19.2 DIA

Figure 10.2.5 Ring Holder



AS FIG. 10.2.5 TAP 2 BA

Figure 10.2.6 Base

Dimensions in millimetres (inches).

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Chapter 10 Standard Test Procedures
Tests For Bitumen & Bituminous Materials

85 ID

OR 1P61C

STEEL BALL 9.53 (3/8“) DIA

WEIGHT 3.45-3.55 g

FIG. 10.2.3




BASE FIG. 10.2.6



Figure 10.2.7 Assembly of ring-and-ball apparatus for two rings (stirrer not shown)

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Chapter 10 Standard Test Procedures
Tests For Bitumen & Bituminous Materials

10.2.3 Test procedure

The apparatus is assembled with the rings, ball centering guides and thermometer in
position and the beaker is filled with water to a depth of not less than 102mm and not
more than 108mm. The water used for the test must be distilled and allowed to cool in
a stoppered flask, this is to prevent air bubbles forming on the specimen during the
test. The initial water temperature must be 5 ± 10C and this temperature must be
maintained for 15 minutes, placing the beaker in a bath of iced water if necessary.

On completion of the 15-minute period, the steel balls are positioned using forceps,
and heat is applied to the beaker, preferably with a gas burner, at such a rate that
the water temperature rises at 50C per minute. The rate of temperature rise is critical
and if after the first 3 minutes the rise varies from the 50C in any minute period, by
more than ± 0.50C, the test must be abandoned.

As the temperature rises, the balls will begin to cause the bitumen in the rings to sag
downwards, the water temperature at the instant the bitumen touches the bottom
plate is taken for each ball. If the two temperatures differ by more than 10C, the test
must be repeated using fresh samples.

10.2.3 Calculation

The ring and ball softening point is simply the average of the two temperatures at
which the bitumen just touches the bottom plate. A typical data sheet is shown as
Form 10.2.1.

10.2.4 Test report

The report shall contain at least the following information:

a) Identification of the material tested.

b) A reference to the test method used.
c) A statement offends deviation from the method.
d) The test result [softening point is reported to the nearest 0.20C]
e) Date of test

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Chapter 10 Standard Test Procedures
Tests For Bitumen & Bituminous Materials

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