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342 A Textbook of Engineering Mechanics

Virtual Work
342
Contents
1. Introduction.
2. Concept of Virtual Work.
3. Principle of Virtual Work.
4. Sign Conventions.
5. Applications of the
Principle of Virtual Work.
6. Application of Principle of
Virtual Work on Beams
7. Application of Principle of
Virtual Work on Beams
Carrying Uniformly
8. Application of Principle of
Virtual Work on Ladders.
9. Application of Principle of
Virtual Work on Lifting
Machines.
10. Application of Principle of
Virtual Work on Framed
Structures.
16.1. INTRODUCTION
It has been observed that whenever a force acts
on a body, and the body undergoes some displacement,
some work is said to be done. Mathematically, if a
force (P) acting on a body displaces it through a
distance (s), then
Workdone = Force Distance = P s
But, sometimes, the body does not move in the
direction of force (or in other words, the force does
not act in the direction of motion of the body). In such
a case,
Workdone = Component of the force in the
direction of motion Distance
= P cos s
where is the inclination between the line of action of
the force and the direction of the motion of the body.
16
C H A P T E R C H A P T E R C H A P T E R C H A P T E R C H A P T E R
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Chapter 16 : Virtual Work 343
A little consideration will show that
1. If the value of is between 0 and 90, some work is done.
2. If the value of is 90, then no work is done (because cos 90 = 0).
3. If the value of is between 90 and 180, the body will move in the opposite direction and
work is called as negative.
16.2. CONCEPT OF VIRTUAL WORK
In the previous article, we have discussed that the work done by a force is equal to the force
multiplied by the distance through which the body has moved in the direction of the force. But if the
body is in equilibrium, under the action of a system of forces, the work done is zero. If we assume that
the body, in equilibrium, undergoes an infinite small imaginary displacement (known as virtual
displacement) some work will be imagined to be done. Such an imaginary work is called virtual
work. This concept, of virtual work, is very useful in finding out the unknown forces in structures.
Note. The term virtual is used to stress its purely hypothetical nature, as we do not actually
displace the system. We only imagine, as to what would happen, if the system is displaced.
16.3. PRINCIPLE OF VIRTUAL WORK
It states, If a system of forces acting on a body or a system of bodies be in equilibrium, and
the system be imagined to undergo a small displacement consistent with the geometrical conditions,
then the algebraic sum of the virtual works done by all the forces of the system is zero.
Proof. Consider a body at O, subjected to a force P inclined at angle with X-X axis as shown
in Fig. 16.1.
Let P
X
= Component of the force
along X-X axis, and
P
Y
= Component of the
force along Y-Y axis.
From the geometry of the figure, we find that
P
X
= P cos and
P
Y
= P sin
Now consider the body to move from O to some other
point C, under the action of the force P, such that the line OC
makes an angle with the direction of the force. Now draw
CA and CB perpendiculars to OX and OY respectively as shown
in Fig. 16.1.
From the geometry of the triangle OCA, we find that
cos ( )
OA
OC
+ =
OA = OC cos ( + )
Similarly, OB = AC = OC sin ( + )
We know that the sum of the works done by the components P
X
and P
Y
of the force P
= P
X
OA + P
Y
OB
= [P cos OC cos ( + )] + [P sin OC sin ( + )]
= P OC [cos cos ( + ) + sin sin ( + )]
= P OC cos ( ) ... (Q cos A B = cos A cos B + sin A sin B)
= P OC cos ( )
= P OC cos ... (Q cos ( A) = cos A) ...(i)
Fig. 16.1. Principle of virtual work.
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344 A Textbook of Engineering Mechanics
We also know that the work done by the force P in moving the body from O to C.
= P OC cos ...(ii)
Since the equations (i) and (ii) are the same, therefore, work done by a force is equal to the sum
of the works done by its resolved parts.
Note. For the sake of simplicity, we have considered only one force and its resolved parts. But
it can be extended to any number of forces.
16.4. SIGN CONVENTIONS
Though there are different sign conventions for finding out the virtual works done in different
books, yet we shall use the following sign conventions, which are internationally recognised.
1. Upward forces are considered as positive, whereas the downwards as negative.
2. Forces acting towards right are considered as positive, whereas those towards left as
negative.
3. Forces acting in the clockwise direction are considered as positive, whereas the
anticlockswise as negative.
4. Tensile forces are considered as positive whereas the compressive as negative.
16.5. APPLICATIONS OF THE PRINCIPLE OF VIRTUAL WORK
The principle of virtual work has very wide applications. But the following are important from
the subject point of view;
1. Beams 2. Lifting machine. 3. Framed structures.
16.6. APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF VIRTUAL WORK ON BEAMS
Fig. 16.2. Beam carrying point load.
Consider a beam AB, simply supported at its supports, and subjected to a point load W at C
as shown in Fig. 16.2 (a)
Let R
A
= Reaction at A, and
R
B
= Reaction at B.
First of all, let us assume the beam to be hinged at A. Now consider an upward virtual
displacement (y) of the beam at B. This is due to the reaction at B acting upwards as shown in Fig.
16.2 (b). Let x be the upward virtual displacement of the beam at C due to the point load.
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Chapter 16 : Virtual Work 345
Now in two similar triangles ABD and ACE,

x a
y l
= or
a y
x
l
=
Total virtual work done by the two reactions R
A
and R
B
= + [(R
A
0) + (R
B
y)] = + R
B
y ...(i)
... (Plus sign due to the reactions acting upwards)
and virtual work done by the point load*
= W x ...(ii)
... (Minus sign due to the load acting downwards)
We know that from the principle of virtual work, that algebraic sum of the virtual works done
is zero. Therefore
R
B
y W x = 0
or B
W x W a y W a
R
y y l l

= = =
Similarly, it can be proved that the vertical reaction at A,
A
W b
R
l

=
Notes : 1. For the sake of simplicity, we have taken only one point load W at C. But this principle
may be extended for any number of loads.
2. The value of reaction at A (i.e., R
A
) may also be obtained by subtracting the value of R
B
from the downward load W. Mathematically,

1
A
Wa a l a Wb
R W W W
l l l l

= = = =

Example 16.1. A beam AB of span 5 metres is carrying a point load of 2 kN at a distance
2 metres from A. Determine the beam reactions, by using the principle of the virtual work.
Solution. Given: Span (l) = 5 m; Point load (W) = 2 kN and distance between the point load
and support A = 2 m.
Fig. 16.3.
Let R
A
= Reaction at A,
R
B
= Reaction at B, and
y = Virtual upward displacement of the beam at B.
* This may also be analysed by considering the downward vertical displacement of the beam at C (due to
load W). In this case, the beam also undergoes a downward virtual displacement at B.
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346 A Textbook of Engineering Mechanics
From the geometry of the figure, we find that when the virtual upward displacement of the
beam at B is y, the virtual upward displacement of the beam at C is
2
5
y
= 0.4 y as shown in Fig. 16.3.
Total virtual work done by the two reactions R
A
and R
B
= +[(R
A
0) + (R
B
y)] = + R
B
y ...(i)
... (Plus sign due to the reactions acting upwards)
and virtual work done by the point load
2 0.4 0.8 Px y = = = ...(ii)
... (Minus sign due to the load acting downwards)
We know that from the principle of virtual work, that algebraic sum of the total virtual
works done is zero. Therefore
R
B
y 0.8 y = 0
or R
B
= 0.8 y/y = 0.8 kN Ans.
and R
A
= 2 0.8 = 1.2 kN Ans.
Example 16.2. Two beams AC and CD of length 9 m and 10 m respectively are hinged at C.
These are supported on rollers at the left and right ends (A and D). A hinged support is provided at
B, 7m from A as shown in Fig. 16.4.
Fig. 16.4.
Using the principle of virtual work, determine the force transmitted by the hinge C and the
reaction at the support B, when a load of 700 N acts at a point 6 m from D.
Solution. Given : Length of beam AC = 9 m; Length of beam CD = 10 m and load at E = 700 N.
Fig. 16.5.
Let R
A
= Reaction at A,
R
B
= Reaction at B,
R
D
= Reaction at D, and
y = Virtual upward displacement of the beam at the hinge (i.e. C).
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Chapter 16 : Virtual Work 347
From the geometry of the figure, we find that when the virtual upward displacement of the
beam at the hinge (i.e. C) is y, then virtual displacement of B and E is
7
9
y
and
6
10
y
=
3
5
y
respectively
as shown in Fig. 16.5.
Total work done by the three reactions (R
A
, R
B
and R
D
)
7
[( 0) ( 0)]
9
A B D
y
R R R

= + + +

7
9
B
y
R = +
...(i)
...(Plus sign due to reactions acting upwards)
and virtual work done by the load
3
700 420
5
y
y = =
...(ii)
...(Minus sign due to load acting downwards)
We know that from the principle of virtual work, that algebraic sum of the total virtual
works done is zero. Therefore
7
420 0
9
B
y
R y =
or
9
420 540 N
7
B
R y
y
= = Ans.
Example 16.3. Two beams AE and BD are supported on rollers at B and C as shown in
Fig. 16.6.
Fig. 16.6.
Determine the reactions at the rollers B and C, using the method of virtual work.
Solution. Given : Length of beam AE = 6 m; Length of beam BD = 8 m; Distance AC = 5 m;
Load at E = 500 N; and load at F = 1000 N
Fig. 16.7.
Let R
C
=Reaction at the roller C, and
R
B
= Reaction at the roller B.
First of all, let us consider the beam AE with roller support at C as shown in Fig. 16.7 (a).
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348 A Textbook of Engineering Mechanics
Let y = Virtual upward displacement of the beam at C.
From the geometry of the figure, we find that when virtual upward displacement of the beam at
C is y, then the virtual upward displacement of beam at E is
6
1.2
5
y
y = as shown in Fig. 16.7 (a)
Therefore total virtual work done by the two reactions R
A
and R
C
= + [(R
A
0) + (R
C
y)] = + R
C
y ...(i)
...(Plus sign due to reaction at C acting upwards)
and virtual work done by the point load at E
= (500 1.2y) = 600y ...(ii)
...(Minus sign due to load acting downwards)
We know that from principle of virtual work, that algebraic sum of the total virtual work
done is zero. Therefore
R
C

y 600 y = 0
or R
C
= 600 N Ans.
Now consider the beam BD with loads at C and F as shown in Fig. 16.7 (b)
Let x = Virtual upward displacement of the beam at B.
From the geometry of the figure, we find that when virtual upward displacement of the beam at
B is x, then the virtual upward displacement of the beam at C and F is
6
0.75
8
x
x =
and
3
0.375
8
x
x =
respectively as shown in Fig. 16.7 (b).
Therefore total virtual work done by the two reactions R
B
and R
D
= + (R
B
x) + (R
D
0) = + R
B
x ... (iii)
...(Plus sign due to reactions acting upwards)
and virtual work done by the point loads at C and F
= [(600 0.75 x) + (1000 0.375 x)] = 825 x
...(Minus sign due to loads acting downwards)
We know that from principle of virtual work, that algebraic sum of the total virtual works done
is zero. Therefore
R
B

x 825x = 0
or R
B
= 825 N Ans.
Note. In this case, we have assumed the virtual upward displacement of the beam at B, because
it is hinged at D. However, if we assume the virtual upward displacement at D, it is not wrong. In this
case, we shall obtain the value of reaction at D.
16.7. APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF VIRTUAL WORK FOR BEAMS
CARRYING UNIFORMLY DISTRIBUTED LOAD
Consider a beam AB of length l simply supported at its both ends, and carrying a uniformly
distributed load of w per unit length for the whole span from A to B as shown in Fig. 16.8 (a).
Let R
A
= Reaction at A, and
R
B
= Reaction at B.
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Chapter 16 : Virtual Work 349
First of all, let us assume the beam to be hinged at A. Now consider an upward virtual
displacement (y) of the beam at B. This is due to the reaction at B acting upwards as shown in Fig.
16.8 (b)
Fig. 16.8. Beam carrying uniformly distributed load.
Total virtual work done by the two reactions R
A
and R
B
= + [(R
A
0) + (R
B
y)] = + R
B
y ...(i)
...(Plus sign due to reaction acting upwards)
and virtual work done by the uniformly distributed load
0
0.5
2
y
w l wyl
+
= =

...(Minus sign due to load acting downwards)
We know that from the principle of virtual work, that algebraic sum of the virtual
works done is zero. Therefore
R
B
y 0.5wl y = 0
R
B
y = 0.5 wl y
R
B
= 0.5 wl
Note. For the sake of simplicity, we have taken the uniformly distributed load for the entire
span from A to B. But this principle may be extended for any type of load on beam (i.e. simply
supported or overhanging beam etc.)
Example 16.4. A simply supported beam AB of span 5 m is loaded as shown in Fig. 16.9.
Fig. 16.9. Using the principle of virtual work, find the reactions at A and B.
Solution. Given : Length of beam AB = 5 m; Point Load at C = 5 kN and uniformly distributed
load between D and B = 2 kN/m
Let R
A
= Reaction at A,
R
B
= Reaction at B, and
y = Virtual upward displacement of the beam at B.
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350 A Textbook of Engineering Mechanics
From the geometry of the figure, we find that when the virtual upward displacement of the
beam at B is y, then the virtual upward displacement of the beam at C and D is 0.2 y and 0.4 y
respectively as shown in Fig. 16.10.
Fig. 16.10.
Total virtual work done by the two reactions R
A
and R
B
= + [(R
A
0) + (R
B
y)] = + R
B
y ...(i)
...(Plus sign due to reactions acting upwards)
and total virtual work done by the point load at C and uniformly distributed load between D and B.
0.4
(5 0.2 ) 2 3
2
y y
y
+
= +

= 5.2 y ...(ii)
...(Minus sign due to loads acting downwards)
We know that from the principle of virtual work, that algebraic sum of the total virtual
works done is zero. Therefore
R
B
y 5.2 y = 0
or R
B
= 5.2 kN Ans.
and R
A
= 5 + (2 3) 5.2 = 5.8 kN Ans.
Example 16.5. An overhanging beam ABC of span 3 m is loaded as shown in Fig. 16.11.
Fig. 16.11.
Using the principle of virtual work, find the reactions at A and B.
Solution. Given : Span AB = 2 m and span BC = 1 m
Let R
A
= Reaction at A,
R
B
= Reaction at B, and
y = Virtual upward displacement of beam at B.
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Chapter 16 : Virtual Work 351
From the geometry of the figure, we find that when the virtual upward displacement of the
beam at B is y, then the virtual upward displacement of the beam at C is 1.5 y as shown in Fig. 16.12.
Fig. 16.12.
Total virtual work done by the two reactions R
A
and R
B
= +[(R
A
0) + (R
B
y)] = + R
B
y
...(Plus sign due to reactions acting upwards)
and total virtual work done by the point load at C and uniformly distributed load between A and C.
0 1.5
(1 1.5 ) 2 3
2
y
y
+
= +

= (1.5y + 4.5 y) = 6y
...(Minus sign due to loads acting downwards)
We know that from the principle of virtual work, that algebraic sum of the total virtual
works done is zero. Therefore
R
B
y 6y = 0
or R
B
= 6 kN Ans.
and R
A
= (2 3) + 1 6 = 1 kN Ans.
EXERCISE 16.1
1. A simply supported beam AB of span 4 m is subjected to a point load of 10 kN at a
distance of 1.5 m from A. Using the principle of virtual work, determine the reactions at
the two supports.
(Ans. 3.75 kN ; 6.25 kN)
2. Two beams AD and DF of spans 6m and 4m respectively are hinged at C and supported at
A, D and F. The beams are loaded as shown in Fig. 16.13.
Fig. 16.13.
Using the principle of virtual work, find the reaction at D. (Ans. 22.9 kN)
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352 A Textbook of Engineering Mechanics
3. A simply supported beam of span 4 m is carrying a uniformly distributed load of 5 kN/m
as shown in Fig. 16.14.
Fig. 16.14.
Using the principle of virtual work, find the reactions at A and B.
(Ans. 2.5 kN; 7.5 kN)
4. A beam of span 5 m is supported at A and B. It is subjected to a load system as shown
in Fig. 16.15.
Fig. 16.15.
With the help of principle of virtual work, find the reactions at A and B.
(Ans. 4.4 kN; 5.6 kN)
16.8. APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF VIRTUAL WORK ON LADDERS
We have already discussed in Art.
9.16 that in case of a ladder, its foot moves
on the floor towards or away from the wall.
It is thus obvious, that no work is done by
the normal reaction (R
f
) at the foot of the
ladder. However, some work is done by the
frictional force (F
f
) at the foot of the ladder.
Similarly, top of the ladder moves up or down
along the wall. Thus no work is done by the
normal reaction (R
w
) at the top of the ladder.
However, some work is done by the frictional
force at the top of the ladder. This happens
when the wall is not smooth, or in other
words, the wall has some coefficient of
friction.
Now the virtual works done by the frictional forces at the foot and top of the ladder are found
out, and the principle of virtual work is applied as usual.
Note. If the vertical wall is smooth, then there is no frictional force at the top of the ladder.
Thus no work is done at the top of the ladder.
Example 16.6. A uniform ladder of weight 250 N rests against a smooth vertical wall and a
rough horizontal floor making an angle of 45 with the horizontal. Find the force of friction at he
floor using the method of virtual work.
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Chapter 16 : Virtual Work 353
Solution. Given : Weight of the ladder (W) = 250 N and inclination of the ladder with the
horizontal () = 45
The ladder AB weighing 250 N and making an angle of
45 with the horizontal as shown in Fig. 16.16.
Let x =Virtual displacement of the foot
of the ladder, and
y =Virtual displacement of the
mid of the ladder at D.
From the geometry of the figure, we find that when mid
point D of the ladder moves downwards (due to its weight)
then bottom A of the ladder moves towards left, which is
prevented by the force of friction. Or in other words, the virtual
displacement of the foot of the ladder A, due to force of friction
(F
f
) will be towards right.
Moreover, when the virtual displacement of the ladder
at A due to frictional force towards right is x. Then the virtual displacement of the mid of the ladder,
0.5
2tan 45 2
x x
y x = = =

Virtual work done by the frictional force

= + F
f
x = F
f
.x
...(Plus sign due to movement of force towards right)
and virtual work done by the 250 N weight of the ladder
= (250 y) = (250 0.5 x) = 125 x
...(Minus sign due to downward movement of the weight)
We know that from the principle of virtual work, that algebraic sum of the total virtual works
done is zero. Therefore
F
f
.x 125 x = 0
or F
f
= 125 N Ans.
Example 16.7. A uniform ladder, 5 metres long and weighing 200 N, rests on a smooth
floor at A and against a smooth wall at B as shown in Fig. 16.17.
Fig. 16.17.
A horizontal rope PQ prevents the ladder from slipping. Using the method of virtual work,
determine the tension in the rope.
Fig. 16.16.
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354 A Textbook of Engineering Mechanics
Solution. Given: Length of the ladder (l) = 5 m and weight of the ladder (W) = 200 N
Let T = Tension in the rope PQ,
= Angle, which the ladder makes with the horizontal.
x = Virtual vertical displacement of the mid of the ladder Q (or in
other words, weight of the ladder), and
y = Virtual horizontal displacement of the rope PQ due to tension.
From the geometry of the figure, we find that
4
tan
3
=
We also find that when the mid point P of the ladder moves downwards (due to weight), it
causes top of the ladder B to move downwards and bottom of the ladder A to move towards left. It
causes tension (T) in the rope PQ. Moreover, when the virtual vertical displacement of the mid of the
ladder P (or weight of the ladder) is x, then the virtual horizontal displacement of the ladder,
3
0.75
tan 4 3 4
x x x
y x = = = =

Virtual work done by the tension in the rope

= + Tx ...(i)
...(Plus sign due to tension)
and virtual work done by the 200 N weight of the ladder
= 200 y ...(ii)
...(Minus sign due to downward movement of the weight)
We know that from the principle of virtual work, that algebraic sum of the total virtual works
done is zero. Therefore
Tx 200 y = 0
or
200 200 0.75
150 N
y x
T
x x

= = = Ans.
16.9. APPLICATION OF PRINCIPLE OF VIRTUAL WORK ON LIFTING
MACHINES
We know that in the case of lifting machines, the effort moves downwards, whereas the load
moves upwards. In such cases, the virtual works done by the effort and that by the load are found out.
Now apply the principle of virtual work as usual.
Example 16.8. A weight (W) of 5 kN is raised by a system of pulleys as shown in Fig. 16.18
Fig. 16.18.
Using the method of virtual work, find the force P, which can hold the weight in equilibrium.
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Chapter 16 : Virtual Work 355
Solution. Given : Weight (W) = 5 kN
Let P = Force which can hold the weight in equilibrium, and
y = Virtual upward displacement of the weight.
From the geometry of the system of pulleys, we find that when the virtual upward displacement
of the weight is y, the virtual downward displacement of the force is 2y.
Virtual work done by the load
= + Wy = 5y ...(i)
...(Plus sign due to upward movement of the load)
and virtual work done by the effort
= P 2y = 2 Py ...(ii)
... (Minus sign due to downward movement of the effort)
We know that from the principle of virtual work, that algebraic sum of the virtual works
done is zero. Therefore
5y 2Py = 0
or
5
2.5 kN
2
y
P
y
= = Ans.
Example 16.9. A weight of 1000 N resting over a smooth surface inclined at 30 with the
horizontal, is supported by an effort (P) resting on a smooth surface inclined at 45 with the horizontal
as shown in Fig. 16.19.
Fig. 16.19.
By using the principle of virtual work, calculate the value of effort (P).
Solution. Given: Weight (W) = 1000 N; Inclination of weight surface (
1
) = 30 and inclination
of effort surface (
2
) = 45
Let x = Virtual vertical displacement of 1000 N weight, and
y = Virtual vertical displacement of the effort (P).
From the geometry of the system, we find that when the weight (1000 N) moves downwards,
the effort (P) will move upwards. We also find that the distance through which the 1000 N weight
will move downwards on the inclined surface will be equal to the distance through which the load P
will move upwards on the inclined surface.
Distance through which the 1000 N weight moves on the inclined surface AC.
2
sin30 0.5
x x
x = = =

...(i)
and distance through which the load P will move on the inclined surface BC
1.414
sin 45 0.707
y y
y = = =

...(ii)
Equating equations (i) and (ii),
2x = 1.414 y or x = 0.707 y
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356 A Textbook of Engineering Mechanics
Virtual work done by the effort (P)
= + P y ...(i)
...(Plus sign due to upward movement of the effort)
and virtual work done by the 1000 N weight
= 1000 x = 1000 0.707 y
= 707 y ...(Q x = 0.707 y) ...(ii)
...(Minus sign due to downward movement of the weight)
We know that from the principle of virtual work, that algebraic sum of the virtual works
done is zero. Therefore
Py 707 y = 0
or P = 707 N Ans.
Example 16.10. A beam AB of 2 m length is held in equilibrium by the application of a
force P as shown in Fig. 16.20.
Fig. 16.20.
Using the principle of virtual work, find the magnitude of the force P when a weight of 2 kN is
hung from the beam AB at its midpoint.
Solution. Given: Length of beam AB = 2 m; Span AC = 1m; Span CB = 1m and
weight (W ) = 2 kN
Let P = force required to keep the body in equilibrium, and
y = Virtual downward displacement of the effort.
From the geometry of the figure, we find that when the virtual downward displacement of
the force (P) is y, then virtual upward displacement of the beam at B (or length of chord released)
= y
and virtual upward displacement of the load
= 0.5 y
Virtual work done by the load
= + (2 0.5 y) = + y ...(i)
...(Plus sign due to upward movement of load)
and virtual work done by the effort
= Py ...(ii)
...(Minus sign due to downward movement of the effort)
We know that from the principle of virtual work, that algebraic sum of the virtual works
done is zero. Therefore
y Py = 0
or P = y/y = 1 kN Ans.
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Chapter 16 : Virtual Work 357
16.10. APPLICATION OF PRINCIPLE OF VIRTUAL WORK ON FRAMED
STRUCTURES
In a framed structure, first of all assume the member (in which force is required to be found
out) to be removed. Now find out the virtual works done by all the remaining members of the frame
and the force in the member, assumed to be removed. Now apply the principle of virtual work as
usual.
Example 16.11. A hexagonal frame is made up of six bars of equal length and cross-
section as shown in Fig. 16.21. The bar ED is fixed in a horizontal position.
Fig. 16.21.
A rod GH is fixed at the mid-points of the bars ED and AB. Using the principle of virtual
work, find the tension in the rod GH due to the weight of the bars.
Solution. Let W = Weight of each bar, and
T = Tension in the rod GH.
First of all, let us assume the rod GH to be removed.
Now let y = Virtual vertical upward displacement of the centre of gravity
of the bars CD and EF.
From the geometry of the figure, we find that when the virtual vertical downward displacement
of centre of gravity of the bars CD and EF is y (due to weight W), then the vertical downward virtual
displacement of the bars BC and AF is 3y; that of member AB is 4y and that of member ED is zero
(because it is fixed in horizontal position). The vertical virtual displacement of member GH is 4y.
Virtual work done by the tension in rod GH
= + T 4y = + 4 Ty ...(i)
...(Plus sign due to tension)
and virtual work done by the bars = [(2 W y) + (2 W 3y) + (W 4y)]
= 12 Wy ...(ii)
...(Minus sign due to downward movement of the bars)
We know that from the principle of virtual work, that algebraic sum of the virtual works
done is zero. Therefore
4 Ty 12Wy = 0
or
12
3
4
Wy
T W
y
= =
Ans.
Contents
358 A Textbook of Engineering Mechanics
Example 16.12. A square pin-jointed frame ABCD with 500 mm side is subjected to a
force of 100 N at D and 50 N at C as shown in Fig. 16.22. All the pins are smooth and the bar
weights are neglected.
Fig. 16.22.
The force in the bar BD can be adjusted by means of a turnbuckle. Using the method of virtual
work, determine the force in the turnbuckle, when the bar AC carries no load.
Solution. Given : Side of frame = 500 mm; force at D = 100 N and force at C = 50 N
Since the bar AC carries no load, therefore it may
be assumed to be removed. Now let us assume the member
BD (in which the force is required to be found out) to be
removed as shown in Fig. 16.23.
Let T = Magnitude of force in the turnbuckle
(i.e. in bar BD)
y = Virtual vertical displacement of the 100
x = Virtual shortening of bar BD.
From the geometry of the figure, we find that
2 x y =
We know that virtual work done by the force in the turbuckle
2 T x T y = + = + ...(i)
...(Plus sign due to tension)
and virtual work done by the 100 N load at D
= 100 y = 100 y ...(ii)
...(Minus sign due to downward movement of the load)
We know that from the principle of virtual work, that algebraic sum of the virtual works
done is zero. Therefore
2 100 0 Ty y =
or
100
50 2 70.7 N
2
y
T
y
= = = Ans.
Note. During the displacement of the members, the forces at A and B do no work. Similarly,
the horizontal force at C does not work in the vertical direction.
Fig. 16.23.
Contents
Chapter 16 : Virtual Work 359
EXERCISE 16.2
1. The diameter of the pulleys in a differential pulley block are 300 mm and 250 mm
respectively. Using the principle of virtual work and neglecting friction, find the value of
the effort required to lift a load of 3 kN. (Ans. 250 N)
2. A block of weight (W) rests on the smooth surface inclined at 20 with the horizontal.
The block is supported by an effort (P) hung from a pulley as shown in Fig. 16.24.
Fig. 16.24.
Using the principle of virtual work, obtain expression for (P) in terms of (W), when the
system is at rest. (Ans. P = 0.685 W)
[ Hint.
Let x = Virtual vertical upward displacement of the load W, and
y = Virtual vertical downward displacement of the effort (P)
Distance through which the load (W) moves along the inclined plane

2.92
sin 20 0.3420
x x
x = = =

...(i)
and distance through which the effort (P) will move

2.92
1.46
2
x
x = =
..(ii)
Virtual work done by the weight (W)
= + W x
and virtual work done by the effort (P)
= P 1.46 x = 1.46 Px
Wx 1.46 Px = 0 or P =
1.46
W
= 0.685 W Ans.
3. Two weights W
1
and W
2
are resting on two smooth planes AB and BC at angles of
1
and

2
as shown in Fig. 16.25.
Fig. 16.25.
With the help of principle of virtual work, find the ratio of W
1
and W
2
.
1 2
2 1
Sin
sin
W
W

=

Ans.
Contents
360 A Textbook of Engineering Mechanics
4. A structure, with pin-jointed member is shown in Fig. 16.26.
Fig. 16.26.
Determine the value of for equilibrium, using the principle of virtual work. Neglect
friction and weight of the members. (Ans. 26.6)
5. Five rods AB, BC, CD, DA and DB each of equal length and cross-section are pin-jointed
together, so as to form a plane frame ABCD. The frame is suspended from the top most
joint A.
A weight (W) is attached at the lower most joint C. Neglecting selfweight of the frame and
using the method of virtual work, find magnitudes of the thrust in the member BD.
(Ans. 0.577 W)
QUESTIONS
1. Explain the principle of virtual work.
2. State the principle of virtual work, and explain how it can be used for solving problems in
statics.
3. Explain the application of the principle of virtual work in case of lifting machines.
4. How will you apply the principle of virtual work in finding out the forces in a framed
structure?
OBJECTIVE TYPE QUESTIONS
1. The term virtual work refers to
(a) actual work done by virtual forces
(b) virtual work done by actual forces
(c) virtual work done by virtual forces
2. The principle of virtual work can not be applied for finding out the reactions of a beam
carrying simultaneously point loads and uniformly distributed loads.
(a) Yes (b) No
3. The principle of virtual work is applicable for the bodies in equilibrium
(a) Agree (b) Disagree
4. The principle of virtual work can be applied for all types of
(a) possible displacements (b) impossible displacement (c) none of the two