13. Materials in Tension. Practically the only materials used extensively under tension are timber, wrought iron and steel, and to some extent cast iron.

14. Timber. A successful tension test of wood is difficult, as the specimen usually crushes at the ends when held in the testing machine, splits, or fails otherwise than as desired. Hence the tensile strengths of woods are not well known, but the following may be taken as approximate average values of the ultimate strengths of the woods named, when "dry out of doors."


7,000 pounds per square inch.

White pine,




Yellow pine, long leaf,




" " .short leaf,




Douglas spruce,




White oak,




Red oak,




15. Wrought Iron. of the process of the manuiacture of wrought iron gives it a "grain," and its tensile strengths along and across the grain are unequal, the latter being about three-fourths of the former. The ultimate tensile strength of wrought iron along the grain varies from 45,000 to 55,000 pounds per square inch. Strength along the grain is meant when not otherwise stated.

The strength depends on the size of the piece, it being greater for small than for large rods or bars, and also for thin than for thick plates. The elastic limit varies from 25,000 to 40,000 pounds per square inch, depending on the size of the bar or plate even more than the ultimate strength. "Wrought iron is very ductile, a specimen tested in tension to destruction elongating from 5 to 25 per cent of its length.

16. Steel. Steel has more or less of a grain but is practically of the same strength in all directions. To suit different purposes, steel is made of various grades, chief among which may be mentioned rivet steel, sheet steel (for boilers), medium steel (for bridges and buildings), rail steel, tool and spring steel. In general, these grades of steel are hard and strong in the order named, the ultimate tensile strength ranging from about 50,000 to 160,000 pounds per square inch.

There are several grades of structural steel, which may be described as follows:* 1. Rivet steel:

Ultimate tensile strength, 48,000 to 58,000 pounds per square inch. Elastic limit, not less than one-half the ultimate strength. Elongation, 2G per cent. Bends 180 degrees flat on itself without fracture.

*Taken from "Manufacturer's Standard Specifications."

2. Soft steel:

Ultimate tensile strength, 52,000 to 62,000 pounds per square inch. Elastic limit, not less than one-half the ultimate strength. Elongation, 25 per cent. Bends 180 degrees flat on itself.

3. Medium steel:

Ultimate tensile strength, 60,000 to 70,000 pounds per square inch. Elastic limit, not less than one-half the ultimate strength. Elongation, 22 per cent.

Bends 180 degrees to a diameter equal to the thickness of the specimen without fracture.

17. Cast Iron. As in the case of steel, there are many grades of cast iron. The grades are not the same for all localities or districts, but they are based on the appearance of the fractures, which vary from coarse dark grey to fine silvery white.

The ultimate tensile strength does not vary uniformly with the grades but depends for the most part on the percentage of "combined carbon" present in the iron. This strength varies from 15,000 to 35,000 pounds per square inch, 20,000 being a fair average.

Cast iron has no well-defined elastic limit (see curve for cast iron, Fig. 5). Its ultimate elongation is about one per cent.

Examples For Practice

1. A steel wire is one-eighth inch in diameter, and the ulti-mate tensile strength of the material is 150,000 pounds per square inch. How large is its breaking load ? Ans. 1,845 pounds.

2. A wrought-iron rod (ultimate tensile strength 50,000 pounds per square inch) is 2 inches in diameter. How large a steady pull can it safely bear ? Ans. 39,270 pounds.

18. Materials in Compression. Unlike the tensile, the compressive strength of a specimen or structural part depends on its dimension in the direction in which the load is applied, for, in compression, a long bar or rod is weaker than a short one. At present we refer only to the strength of short pieces such as do not bend under the load, the longer ones (columns) being discussed farther on.

Different materials break or fail under compression, in two very different ways:

1. Ductile materials (structural steel, wrought iron, etc.), and wood compressed across the grain, do not fail by breaking into two distinct parts as in tension, but the former bulge out and flatten under great loads, while wood splits and mashes down. There is no particular point or instant of failure under increasing loads, and such materials have no definite ultimate strength in compression.

2. Brittle materials (brick, stone, hard steel, cast iron, etc.), and wood compressed along the grain, do not mash gradually, but fail suddenly and have a definite ultimate strength in compression. Although the surfaces of fracture are always much inclined to the direction in which the load is applied (about 45 degrees), the ultimate strength is computed by dividing the total breaking load by the cross-sectional area of the specimen.

The principal materials used under compression in structural work are timber, wrought iron, steel, cast iron, brick and stone.

19. Timber. As before noted, timber has no definite ultimate compressive strength across the grain. The U. S. Forestry Division has adopted certain amounts of compressive deformation as marking stages of failure. Three per cent compression is regarded as "a working limit allowable," and fifteen per cent as "an extreme limit, or as failure." The following (except the first) are values for compressive strength from the Forestry Division Reports, all in pounds per square inch:

Ultimate strength along the grain.

3% Compression across the grain

Hemlock ....


White pine ...



Long-leaf yellow pine. .



Short-leaf yellow pine. .



Dougles spruce ...



White oak .....



Red oak ....



20. Wrought Iron. The elastic limit of wrought iron, as before noted, depends very much upon the size of the bars or plate, it being greater for small bars and thin plates. Its value for compression is practically the same as for tension, 25,000 to 40,000 pounds per square inch.