This section is from the book "Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry, And Building", by James C. et al. Also available from Amazon: Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry And Building.

15. Condition of Equilibrium Defined. By condition of equilibrium of a system of forces is meant a relation which they must fulfill in order that they may be in equilibrium or a relation which they fulfill when they are in equilibrium.

In order that any system may be in equilibrium, or be balanced, their equilibrant, and hence their resultant, must be zero, and this is a condition of equilibrium. If a system is known to be in equilibrium, then, since the forces balance among themselves, their equilibrant and hence their resultant also equals zero. This (the necessity of a zero resultant) is known as the general condition of equilibrium for it pertains to all kinds of force systems. For special kinds of systems there are special conditions, some of which are explained in the following.

16. Graphical Condition of Equilibrium. The "graphical condition of equilibrium" for a system of concurrent forces is that the polygon for the forces must close. For if the polygon closes, then the resultant equals zero as was pointed out in Art 11.

By means of this condition we can solve problems relating to concurrent forces which are known to be in equilibrium. The most common and practically important of these is the following: The forces of a concurrent system in equilibrium are all known except two, but the lines of action of these two are known; it is required to determine their magnitudes and directions. This problem arises again and again in the "analysis of trusses" (Arts. 23 to 26) but will be illustrated first in simpler cases.

Example. 1. Fig. 12 represents a body resting on an inclined plane being prevented from slipping down by a rope fastened to it as shown. It is required to determine the pull or tension on the rope and the pressure of the plane if the body weighs 120 pounds and the surface of the plane is perfectly smooth.*

There are three forces acting upon the body, namely, its weight directly downwards, the pull of the rope and the reaction or pressure of the plane which, as ex plained in the footnote, is perpendicular to the plane. We now draw the polygon for these forces making it close; thus draw AB (1.2 inches long) to represent the magnitude and direction of the weight, 120 pounds, then from A a line parallel to either one of the other forces, from B a line parallel to the third, and mark the intersection of these two lines C; then ABC A is the polygon. Since the arrowhead on AB must point down and since the arrowheads in any force polygon must point the same way around, those on BC and CA must point as shown.

Hence BC (0.6 inch, or 60 pounds) represents the magnitude and direction of the pull of the rope and CA (1.01 inches, or 104

Fig. 12.

* By "a perfectly smooth" surface is meant one which offers no resistance to the sliding of a body upon it. Strictly, there are no such surfaces, as all real surfaces exert more or less frictional resistance. But there are surfaces which are practically perfectly smooth. We use perfectly smooth surfaces in some of our illustrations and examples for the sake of simplicity, for we thus avoid the force of friction, and the reaction or force exerted by such a surface on a body resting upon it is perpendicular to the surface.

pounds) represents the magnitude and direction of the pressure of the plane on the body.

2. A body weighing 200 pounds is suspended from a small ring which is supported by means of two ropes as shown in Fig. 13. It is required to determine the pulls on the two ropes.

There are three forces acting on the ring, namely the downward force equal to the weight of the body and the pulls of the two ropes. Since the ring is at rest, the three forces balance or are in equilibrium, and hence their force polygon must close. We proceed to draw the polygon and in making it close, we shall determine the values of the unknown pulls. Thus, first draw AB (1 inch long) to represent the magnitude and direction of the known force, 200 pounds; the arrowhead on it must point down. Then from A a line parallel to one of the ropes and from B a line parallel to the other and mark their intersection C. ABCA is the polygon for the three forces, and since in any force polygon the arrows point the same way around, we place arrowheads on BC and CA as shown. Then BC and CA represent the magnitudes and directions of the pulls exerted on the ring by the right- and left-hand ropes respectively.

Fig. 13.

Fig. 14.

BC | = | 0.895 inches and represents 179 pounds. |

CA | = | 0.725 inches and represents 145 pounds. |

The directions of the pulls are evident in this case and the arrowheads are superfluous, but they are mentioned to show how to place them and what they mean so that they may be used when neessary. To complete the notation, the rope at the right should be marked bc and the other ca.

1. Fig. 14 represents a body weighing 800 pounds suspended from a ring which is supported by two ropes as shown. Compute the pulls on the ropes.

Ans. | Pull in the horizontal rope = 400 pounds. |

Pull in the inclined rope = 894 pounds. |

2. Suppose that in Fig. 12 the rope supporting the body on the plane is so fastened that it is horizontal. Determine the pull on the rope and the pressure on the plane if the inclination of the plane to the horizontal is 30 degrees and the body weighs 120 pounds.

Ans. | Pull | = | 68.7 pounds. | ||

Pressure | = | 138 pounds. |

3. A sphere weighing 400 pounds rests in a V-shaped trough, the sides of which are inclined at 60 degrees with the horizontal. Compute the pressures on the sphere.

Ans. 400 pounds.

17. Algebraic Conditions of Equilibrium. Imagine each one of the forces of a concurrent system in equilibrium replaced by its components along two lines at right angles to each other, horizontal and vertical for example, through the point of concurrence. Evidently the system of components would also be in equilibrium. Now since the components act along one of two lines (horizontal or vertical), all the components along each line must balance among themselves for if either set of components were not balanced, the body would be moved along that line. Hence we state that the conditions of equilibrium of a system of concurrent forces are that the resultants of the two sets of components of the forces along any two lines at right angles to each other must equal zero.

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