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Contents

C H A P T E R

Equilibrium
of Forces

Contents
1.

Introduction.

2.

Principles of Equilibrium.

3.

Methods for the

Equilibrium of Coplanar
Forces.

4.

Analytical Method for the

Equilibrium of Coplanar
Forces.

5.

Lamis Theorem.

6.

Graphical Method for the

Equilibrium of Coplanar
Forces.

7.

Converse of the Law*of

Triangle of Forces.

8.

Converse of the Law of

Polygon of Forces.

9.

Conditions of Equilibrium.

10. Types of Equilibrium.

5.1. INTRODUCTION
In the previous chapter, we have discussed the
various methods of finding out resultant force, when
a particle is acted upon by a number of forces. This
resultant force will produce the same effect as
produced by all the given forces.
A little consideration will show, that if the
resultant of a number of forces, acting on a particle is
zero, the particle will be in equilibrium. Such a set
of forces, whose resultant is zero, are called
equilibrium forces.
The force, which brings the set of forces in
equilibrium is called an equilibrant.
As a matter of fact, the equilibrant is equal to
the resultant force in magnitude, but opposite in
direction.
55

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56 A Textbook of Engineering Mechanics

5.2. PRINCIPLES OF EQUILIBRIUM
Though there are many principles of equilibrium, yet the following three are important from
the subject point of view :
1. Two force principle. As per this principle, if a body in equilibrium is acted upon by two
forces, then they must be equal, opposite and collinear.
2. Three force principle. As per this principle, if a body in equilibrium is acted upon by three
forces, then the resultant of any two forces must be equal, opposite and collinear with the
third force.
3. Four force principle. As per this principle, if a body in equilibrium is acted upon by four
forces, then the resultant of any two forces must be equal, opposite and collinear with the
resultant of the other two forces.

5.3. METHODS FOR THE EQUILIBRIUM OF COPLANAR FORCES

Though there are many methods of studying the equilibrium of forces, yet the following are
important from the subject point of view :
1. Analytical method. 2. Graphical method.

5.4. ANALYTICAL METHOD FOR THE EQUILIBRIUM OF COPLANAR FORCES

The equilibrium of coplanar forces may be studied, analytically, by Lamis theorem as discussed below :

5.5. LAMIS THEOREM

It states, If three coplanar forces acting at a point be in
equilibrium, then each force is proportional to the sine of the angle
between the other two. Mathematically,
P
Q
R
=
=
sin sin sin

where, P, Q, and R are three forces and , , are the angles as shown in Fig. 5.1. Lamis theorem
Fig. 5.1.
Proof
Consider three coplanar forces P, Q, and R acting at a
point O. Let the opposite angles to three forces be , and as
shown in Fig. 5.2.
Now let us complete the parallelogram OACB with OA
and OB as adjacent sides as shown in the figure. We know that
the resultant of two forces P and Q will be given by the diagonal
OC both in magnitude and direction of the parallelogram OACB.
Since these forces are in equilibrium, therefore the resultant of the forces P and Q must be in line with OD and equal
to R, but in opposite direction.
From the geometry of the figure, we find
BC = P and AC = Q
Fig. 5.2. Proof of Lamis theorem

AOC = (180 )
and
ACO = BOC = (180 )

Contents

But

or

CAO = 180 ( AOC + ACO)

= 180 [(180 ) + (180 )]
= 180 180 + 180 +
= + 180
+ + = 360
Subtracting 180 from both sides of the above equation,
( + 180) + = 360 180 = 180
CAO = 180
We know that in triangle AOC,
OA
AC
OC
=
=
sin ACO sin AOC sin CAO
OA
AC
OC
=
=
sin (180 ) sin (180 ) sin (180 )
P
Q
R
=
=
sin sin sin

or

...[Q sin (180 ) = sin ]

Example 5.1. An electric light fixture weighting 15 N hangs from a point C, by two strings
AC and BC. The string AC is inclined at 60 to the horizontal and BC at 45 to the horizontal as
shown in Fig. 5.3

Fig. 5.3.

Using Lamis theorem, or otherwise, determine the forces in the strings AC and BC.
Solution. Given : Weight at C = 15 N
Let
TAC = Force in the string AC, and
TBC = Force in the string BC.
The system of forces is shown in Fig. 5.4. From the geometry of the
figure, we find that angle between TAC and 15 N is 150 and angle between
TBC and 15 N is 135.

ACB = 180 (45 + 60) = 75

Applying Lamis equation at C,
TAC
TBC
15
=
=
sin 75 sin135 sin150
T
T
15
= AC = BC
or
sin 75 sin 45 sin 30

TAC =

15sin 45 15 0.707
=
= 10.98 N Ans.
sin 75
0.9659

Fig. 5.4.

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58 A Textbook of Engineering Mechanics

TBC =

and

15sin 30 15 0.5
=
= 7.76 N Ans.
sin 75
0.9659

Example 5.2. A string ABCD, attached to fixed points A and D has two equal weihts of
1000 N attached to it at B and C. The weights rest with the portions AB and CD inclined at angles as
shown in Fig. 5.5.

Fig. 5.5.

Find the tensions in the portions AB, BC and CD of the string, if the inclination of the portion
BC with the vertical is 120.
Solution. Given : Load at B = Load at C = 1000 N
For the sake of convenience, let us split up the string ABCD into two parts. The system of
forces at joints B and is shown in Fig. 5.6 (a) and (b).

Fig. 5.6.

Let

TAB = Tension in the portion AB of the string,

TBC = Tension in the portion BC of the string, and
TCD = Tension in the portion CD of the string.

Applying Lamis equation at joint B,

TBC
TAB
1000
=
=
sin 60 sin150 sin150
T
TAB
1000
= BC =
sin 60 sin 30 sin 30

and

TAB =

=
= 1732 N Ans.
sin 30
0.5

TBC =

1000 sin 30
= 1000 N Ans.
sin 30

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Chapter 5 : Equilibrium of Forces 59

Again applying Lamis equation at joint C,
TBC
TCD
1000
=
=
sin 120 sin 120 sin 120

TCD =

1000 sin 120

= 1000 N Ans.
sin 120

Example 5.3. A light string ABCDE whose extremity A is fixed, has weights W1 and W2
attached to it at B and C. It passes round a small smooth peg at D carrying a weight of 300 N at the
free end E as shown in Fig. 5.7.

Fig. 5.7.

If in the equilibrium position, BC is horizontal and AB and CD make 150 and 120 with BC,
find (i) Tensions in the portion AB, BC and CD of the string and (ii) Magnitudes of W1 and W2.
Solution. Given : Weight at E = 300 N
For the sake of convenience, let us split up the string ABCD into two parts. The system of
forces at joints B and C is shown in Fig. 5.8. (a) and (b).

Fig. 5.8.

(i) Tensions is the portion AB, BC and CD of the string

Let
TAB = Tension in the portion AB, and
TBC = Tension in the portion BC,
We know that tension in the portion CD of the string.
TCD = TDE = 300 N Ans.
Applying Lamis equation at C,
TBC
W2
300
=
=
sin 150 sin 120 sin 90

Contents

TBC
W2
300
=
=
sin 30 sin 60
1

and

W2 = 300 sin 60 = 300 0.866 = 259.8 N

Again applying Lamis equation at B,
TBC
TAB
W1
=
=
sin 90 sin 150 sin 120
TAB
W1
150
=
=
1
sin 30 sin 60
TAB =

150
150
=
= 173.2 N Ans.
sin 60 0.866

150sin 30 150 0.5

=
= 86.6 N
sin 60
0.866
(ii) Magnitudes of W1 and W2
From the above calculations, we find that the magnitudes of W1 and W2 are 86.6 N and
259.8 N respectively. Ans.
W1 =

and

EXERCISE 5.1
1. Two men carry a weight of 2 kN by means of two ropes fixed to the weight. One rope is
inclined at 45 and the other at 30 with their vertices. Find the tension in each rope.
[Ans. 1.04 kN ; 1.46 kN]
2. Three forces acting on a particle are in equilibrium. The angles between the first and
second is 90 and that between the second and third is 120. Find the ratio of the forces.
[Ans. 1.73 : 1 : 2]
3. A smooth sphere of weight W is supported by a string fastened to a point A on the smooth
vertical wall, the other end is in contact with point B on the wall as shown in Fig. 5.9

Fig. 5.9.

Fig. 5.10.

If length of the string AC is equal to radius of the sphere, find tension (T) in the string and
reaction of the wall.
[Ans. 1.155 W ; 0.577 W]
Hint. Since AO = 2 OB, therefore AOB = 60

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Chapter 5 : Equilibrium of Forces 61

4. A rope is connected between two points A and B 120 cm apart at the same level. A load of
200 N is suspended from a point C on the rope 45 cm from A as shown in Fig. 5.10. Find
the load, that should be suspended from the rope D 30 cm from B, which will keep the
rope CD horizontal.
[Ans. 400 N]
5. A uniform sphere of weight W rests between a smooth vertical plane and a smooth plane
inclined at an angle with the vertical plane. Find the reaction at the contact surfaces.
[Ans. W cot ; W cosec ]
Example 5.4. Two equal heavy spheres of 50 mm radius are in equilibrium within a smooth
cup of 150 mm radius. Show that the reaction between the cup of one sphere is double than that
between the two spheres.
Solution. Given : Radius of spheres = 50 mm and radius of the cup = 150 mm.

Fig. 5.11.

The two spheres with centres A and B, lying in equilibrium, in the cup with O as centre are
shown in Fig. 5.11 (a). Let the two spheres touch each other at C and touch the cup at D and E
respectively.
Let

R = Reactions between the spheres and cup, and

S = Reaction between the two spheres at C.

From the geometry of the figure, we find that OD = 150 mm and AD = 50 mm. Therefore OA
= 100 mm. Similarly OB = 100 mm. We also find that AB = 100 mm. Therefore OAB is an equilateral
triangle. The system of forces at A is shown in Fig. 5.11 (b).
Applying Lamis equation at A,
R
W
S
=
=
sin 90 sin 120 sin 150
R
W
S
=
=
1 sin 60 sin 30
S
S
R=
=
= 2S

sin 30 0.5
Hence the reaction between the cup and the sphere is double than that between the two
spheres. Ans.

Example 5.5. A smooth circular cylinder of radius 1.5 meter is lying in a triangular groove,
one side of which makes 15 angle and the other 40 angle with the horizontal. Find the reactions at
the surfaces of contact, if there is no friction and the cylinder weights 100 N.

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62 A Textbook of Engineering Mechanics

Solution. Given : Weight of cylinder = 100 N

Fig. 5.12.

Let

RA = Reaction at A, and
RB = Reaction at B.
The smooth cylinder lying in the groove is shown in Fig. 5.12 (a). In order to keep the system
in equilibrium, three forces i.e. RA, RB and weight of cylinder (100 N) must pass through the centre of
the cylinder. Moreover, as there is no *friction, the reactions RA and RB must be normal to the surfaces
as shown in Fig. 5.12 (a). The system of forces is shown in Fig. 5.12 (b).

or

and

Applying Lamis equation, at O,

RA
RB
100
=
=
sin (180 40) sin (180 15) sin (15 + 40)
RA
RB
100
=
=
sin 40 sin 15 sin 55
100 sin 40 100 0.6428
=
= 78.5 N
sin 55
0.8192
100 sin 15 100 0.2588
RB =
=
= 31.6 N
sin 55
0.8192

RA =

Ans.
Ans.

Example 5.6. Two cylinders P and Q rest in a channel as shown in Fig. 5.13.

Fig. 5.13.

The cylinder P has diameter of 100 mm and weighs 200 N, whereas the cylinder Q has diameter
of 180 mm and weighs 500 N.
* This point will be discussed in more details in the chapter of Principles of Friction.

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Chapter 5 : Equilibrium of Forces 63

If the bottom width of the box is 180 mm, with one side vertical and the other inclined at 60,
determine the pressures at all the four points of contact.
Solution. Given : Diameter of cylinder P = 100 mm ; Weight of cylinder P = 200 N ; Diameter
of cylinder Q = 180 mm ; Weight of cylinder Q = 500 N and width of channel = 180 mm.
First of all, consider the equilibrium of the cylinder P. It is in equilibrium under the
action of the following three forces which must pass through A i.e., the centre of the cylinder P as
shown in Fig. 5.14 (a).
1. Weight of the cylinder (200 N) acting downwards.
2. Reaction (R1) of the cylinder P at the vertical side.
3. Reaction (R2) of the cylinder P at the point of contact with the cylinder Q.
From the geometry of the figure, we find that
100
ED = Radius of cylinder P =
= 50 mm
2
Similarly

or

180
= 90 mm
2

BCF = 60

and

and

BF = Radius of cylinder Q =

CF = BF cot 60 = 90 0.577 = 52 mm

FE = BG = 180 (52 + 50) = 78 mm

AB = 50 + 90 = 140 mm
BG
78
=
= 0.5571
AB 140
ABG = 56.1

cos ABG =

Fig. 5.14.

Applying Lamis equation at A,

R1
R2
200
=
=
sin (90 + 56.1) sin 90 sin (180 56.1)
R1
R
200
= 2 =
cos 56.1
1
sin 56.1

Contents

R1 =

200 cos 56.1 200 0.5571

=
= 134.2 N Ans.
sin 56.1
0.830

and

R2 =

200
200
=
= 240.8 N Ans.
sin 56.1 0.8300

Now consider the equilibriXum of the cylinder Q. It is in equilibrium under the action of the
following four forces, which must pass through the centre of the cylinder as shown in Fig. 5.15 (a).
1. Weight of the cylinder Q (500 N) acting downwards.
2. Reaction R2 equal to 240.8 N of the cylinder P on cylinder Q.
3. Reaction R3 of the cylinder Q on the inclined surface.
4. Reaction R4 of the cylinder Q on the base of the channel.

Fig. 5.15.

A little consideration will show, that the weight of the cylinder Q is acting downwards and the
reaction R4 is acting upwards. Moreover, their lines of action also coincide with each other.
Net downward force = (R4 500) N
The system of forces is shown in Fig. 5.15 (b).
Applying Lamis equation at B,
R3
R4 500
240.8
=
=
sin (90 + 56.1) sin 60 sin (180 + 30 56.1)
R3
R 500
240.8
=
= 4
cos 56.1 sin 60 sin 26.1

R3 =
R4 500 =

and

240.8 cos 56.1 240.8 0.5577

=
= 155 N Ans.
sin 60
0.866
240.8 sin 26.1 240.8 399
=
= 122.3 N
sin 60
0.866

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Chapter 5 : Equilibrium of Forces 65

Example 5.7. Three cylinders weighting 100 N each and of 80 mm diameter are placed in a
channel of 180 mm width as shown in Fig. 5.16.

Fig. 5.16.

Determine the pressure exerted by (i) the cylinder A on B at the point of contact (ii) the
cylinder B on the base and (iii) the cylinder B on the wall.
Solution. Given : Weight of each cylinder = 100 N ; Dia. of each cylinder = 80 mm and
width of channel = 180 mm
(i) Pressure exerted by the cylinder A on the cylinder B
Let
R1 = Pressure exerted by the cylinder A on B. It is also equal to pressure
exerted by the cylinder A on B.
First of all, consider the equilibrium of the cylinder A. It is in equilibrium under the action of
the following forces, which must pass through the centre of the cylinder as shown in Fig. 5.17 (a).
1. Weight of the cylinder 100 N acting downwards.
2. Reaction R1 of the cylinder B on the cylinder A.
3. Reaction R2 of the cylinder C on the cylinder A.
Now join the centres O, P and Q of the three cylinders. Bisect PQ at S and join OS as shown
in Fig. 5.17 (b).

Fig. 5.17.

From the geometry of the triangle OPS, we find that

and

or

OP = 40 + 40 = 80 mm
PS = 90 40 = 50 mm
PS 50
sin POS =
=
= 0.625
OP 80
POS = 38.7

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66 A Textbook of Engineering Mechanics

Since the triangle OSQ is similar to the triangle OPS, therefore SOQ is also equal
to 38.7. Thus the angle between R 1 and R 2 is 2 38.7 = 77.4.
And angle between R1 and OS (also between R2 and OS)
= 180 38.7 = 141.3
The system of forces at O is shown in Fig. 5.17 (b). Applying Lamis equation at O,
R1
R2
100
=
=
sin 141.3 sin 141.3 sin 77.4
R1
R2
100
=
=
sin 38.7 sin 38.7 sin 77.4

100 sin 38.7 100 0.6252

=
= 64.0 N Ans.
sin 77.4
0.9759
Similarly
R2 = R1 = 64.0 N Ans.
(ii) Pressure exerted by the cylinder B on the base
Let
R3 = Pressure exerted by the cylinder B on the wall, and
R4 = Pressure exerted by the cylinder B on the base.

R1 =

Fig. 5.18.

Now consider the equilibrium of the cylinder B. It is in equilibrium under the action of the
following forces, which must pass through the centre of the cylinder as shown in Fig. 5.18 (a).
1. Weight of the cylinder 100 N acting downwards.
2. Reaction R2 equal to 64.0 N of the cylinder A on the cylinder B.
3. Reaction R3 of the cylinder B on the vertical side of the channel.
4. Reaction R4 of the cylinder B on the base of the channel.
A little consideration will show that weight of the cylinder B is acting downwards and the
reaction R4 is acting upwards. Moreover, their lines of action also coincide with each other.
Therefore net downward force will be equal to (R4 100) N.
The system of forces is shown in Fig. 5.18 (b). Applying Lamis equation at P,
R3
( R4 100)
64
=
=
sin 90 sin (180 38.7) sin (90 + 38.7)
R3
R 100
64
=
= 4
1
sin 38.7 cos 38.7

Contents

or
(iii)

R4 = 50 + 100 = 150 N Ans.

Pressure exerted by the cylinder B on the wall
From the above Lamis equation, we also find that
R3 = 64 sin 38.7 = 64 0.6252 = 40 N Ans.
Note. Since the cylinders B and C are symmetrically placed, therefore pressures exerted
by the cylinder C on the wall as well as channel will be the same as those exerted by the cylinder B.
Example 5.8. A uniform rod AB remains in equilibrium position resting on a smooth inclined
planes AC and BC, which are at an angle of 90 as shown in figure given below :

Fig. 5.19.

If the plane BC makes an angle of with the horizontal, then what is the inclination of the
rod AB with the plane AC.
Solution. The rod is in equilibrium under the action of the following three forces,
1. Weight of the rod acting vertically through the mid-point G of the rod AB.
2. Reaction RA at A normal to the plane AC, and
3. Reaction RB at B normal to the plane BC.
Let these three forces meet at point D as shown in fig. 5.20

Fig. 5.20.

Since AD is perpendicular to AC and BD is perpendicular to BC, therefore AD is parallel to BC

and BD is parallel to AC.
and
The figure ADBC is a rectangle whose diagonal DGC is vertical
GA = GC
GAC = GCA

= Ans.

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68 A Textbook of Engineering Mechanics

Example 5.9. A uniform rod AB of length 3r remains in equilibrium on a hemispherical
bowl of radius r as shown in Fig. 5.21.

Fig. 5.21.

Ignoring friction find the inclination of the rod () with the horizontal.
Solution. Given : Length of the rod AB = 3r and radius of hemispherical ball = r
The rod is in equilibrium under the action of the following three forces as shown in Fig. 5.22.
1. Weight of the rod (W) acting vertically downwords through the mid-point G of the
rod AB
2. Reaction at A acting in the direction AO
3. Reaction at C acting at the right angle to AB

Fig. 5.22.

From the geometry of the figure we know that

AC = AD cos = 2r cos
CD = AD sin = 2r sin
AG = GB = 1.5r
GC = AC AG = 2r cos 1.5r
From the geometry of the figure we also find that
GDC =

or

=
=
CD
2r sin
2r sin

=
cos
2sin

2 sin2 = 2 cos2 1.5 cos

2 (cos2 sin2 ) = 1.5 cos
2 (2 cos2 1) = 1.5 cos
2
4 cos 1.5 cos 2 = 0

Contents

Chapter 5 : Equilibrium of Forces 69

Solving it as a quardrotic equation,
cos =

1.5 +

2.25 + 32
= 0.9
8

or

= 25.8 Ans.

Example 5.10. Fig. 5.23 shows a shear leg crane lifting a load of 250 kN.

Fig. 5.23.

The legs BC and BE are 20 m long and 10 m apart at the base. The back stay AB is 25 m long.
If all the members are pin-jointed at A, C and E, at the same level, find the forces in all the three
members of the crane.
Solution. Given : Weight at B = 250 kN
Let
P = Force in each members BC and BE, and
T = Force in the member AB.
From the geometry of the figure, we find that the points ABDF lie in one vertical plane, in
which AFB is a right angle. Moreover, the points BCDE also lie in one plane, in which BDC
and BDE are also right angles and D is in the mid point of C and E.

Fig. 5.24.

Fig. 5.25.

First of all, draw the isosceles triangle BCE with BC and BE each equal to 20 m and CE
equal to 10 m with D as mid point of C and E as shown in Fig. 5.24.
Now in triangle BCD, we find that
5
= 14.5
sin =
= 0.25 or
20
and

BD = (20)2 (5) 2 = 19.36 m

Now draw the triangle ABF with DF equal to 8 m, AFB equal to 90, DB equal to 19.36
m and AB equal to 25 m as shown in Fig. 5.25.

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70 A Textbook of Engineering Mechanics

From the geometry of the triangle BDF, we find that
DF
8
sin =
or
=
= 0.4132
BD 19.36

= 24.4

and

BF 17.63
or
ABF = 45.1
=
= 0.7052
AB
25

= 45.1 24.4 = 20.7

We know that resultant of the forces in members BC and BE (acting along BD)
R = 2P cos = 2P cos 14.5
cos ABF =

= 2P 0.9680 = 1.936 P
The system of forces acting at B is shown in Fig 5.26.
Applying Lamis equation at B,
T
1.936 P
250
=
=
sin (180 24.4) sin 45.1 sin (180 20.7)
T
1.936 P
250
=
=
sin 24.4 sin 45.1 sin 20.7

and

T =
=
= 291.5 kN Ans.
sin 20.7
0.3543
P=

Fig. 5.26.

250 sin 45.1

250 0.7090
=
= 258.4 kN Ans.
1.936 sin 20.7 1.936 0.3543

5.6. GRAPHICAL METHOD FOR THE EQUILIBRIUM OF COPLANAR FORCES

We have studied in Art 5.5 the equilibrium of forces by analytical method. Sometimes, the
analytical method is too tedious and complicated. The equilibrium of such forces may also be studied,
graphically, by drawing the vector diagram. This may also be done by studying the
1. Converse of the Law of Triangle of Forces.
2. Converse of the Law of Polygon of Forces.

Contents

Chapter 5 : Equilibrium of Forces 71

5.7. CONVERSE OF THE LAW* OF TRIANGLE OF FORCES
If three forces acting at a point be represented in magnitude and direction by the three sides a
triangle, taken in order, the forces shall be in equilibrium.

5.8. CONVERSE OF THE LAW OF POLYGON OF FORCES

If any number of forces acting at a point be represented in magnitude and direction by the sides
of a closed polygon, taken in order, the forces shall be in equilibrium.
Example 5.11. An electric light fixture weighing 15 N hangs from a point C, by two strings AC
and BC. The string AC is inclined at 60 to the horizontal and BC at 45 to the horizontal as shown
in Fig. 5.27.

Fig. 5.27.

Using Lamis theorem, or otherwise, determine the forces in the strings AC and BC.
Solution. Given. Weight at C = 15 N
Let
TAC = Force in the string AC, and
TBC = Force in the string BC.
First of all, draw the space diagram for the joint C and name the forces according to Bows
notations as shown in Fig. 5.28 (a). The force TAC is named as RQ and the force TBC as PR.

Fig. 5.28.

Now draw the vector diagram for the given system of forces as shown in Fig. 5.28 (b) and as
discussed below :
*

Triangle Law of Forces states, If two forces acting simultaneously on a particle be repressented in
magnitude and direction by the two sides of a triangle taken in order, their resultant may be represented
in magnitude and direction by the third side of the triangle, taken in the opposite order.
Polygon Law of Forces states, If a number of forces acting simultaneously on a particle be represented in
magnitude and direction by the side of the a polygon taken in order, then the resultant of all these forces
may be represented in magnitude and direction by the closing side of the polygon, taken in the opposite
order.
We have already solved this example analytically as 5.1.

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72 A Textbook of Engineering Mechanics

1. Select some suitable point p and draw a vertical line pq equal to 15 N to some suitable
scale representing weight (PQ) of the electric fixture.
2. Through p draw a line pr parallel to PR and through q, draw a line qr parallel to QR. Let
these two lines meet at r and close the triangle pqr, which means that joint C is in
equilibrium.
3. By measurement, we find that the forces in strings AC (TAC) and BC (T PC) is equal to
1.0 N and 7.8 N respectively. Ans.
Example 5.12. Five strings are tied at a point and are pulled in all directions, equally
spaced from one another. If the magnitude of the pulls on three consecutive strings is 50 N, 70 N and
60 N respectively, find graphically the magnitude of the pulls on two other strings.
360
= 72 .
Solution. Given : Pulls = 50 N ; 70 N and 60 N and angle between the forces =
5
Let
P1 and P2 = Pulls in the two strings.
First of all, let us draw the space diagram for the given system of forces and name them
according to Bows notations as shown in Fig 5.29 (a).

Fig. 5.29.

Now draw the vector diagram for the given forces as shown in Fig. 5.29 (b) and as discussed below :
1. Select some suitable point a and draw a horizontal line ab equal to 50 N to some suitable
scale representing the force AB.
2. Through b draw a line bc equal to 70 N to the scale and parallel to BC.
3. Similarly through c, draw cd equal to 60 N to the scale and parallel to CD.
4. Through d draw a line parallel to the force P1 of the space diagram.
5. Similarly through a draw a line parallel to the force P2 meeting the first line at e, thus
closing the polygon abcde, which means that the point is in equilibrium.
6. By measurement, we find that the forces P1 = 57.5 N and P2 = 72.5 N respectively. Ans.

5.9. CONDITIONS OF EQUILIBRIUM

Consider a body acted upon by a number of coplaner non-concurrent forces. A little consideration will show, that as a result of these forces, the body may have any one of the following states:
1. The body may move in any one direction.
2. The body may rotate about itself without moving.
3. The body may move in any one direction and at the same time it may also rotate about
itself.
4. The body may be completely at rest.

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Chapter 5 : Equilibrium of Forces 73

Now we shall study the above mentioned four states one by one.
1. If the body moves in any direction, it means that there is a resultant force acting on it. A
little consideration will show, that if the body is to be at rest or in equilibrium, the resultant
force causing movement must be zero. Or in other words, the horizontal component of all
the forces ( H) and vertical component of all the forces (V) must be zero. Mathematically,
H=0
and
V=0
2. If the body rotates about itself, without moving, it means that there is a single resultant
couple acting on it with no resultant force. A little consideration will show, that if the body
is to be at rest or in equilibrium, the moment of the couple causing rotation must be zero.
Or in other words, the resultant moment of all the forces ( M) must be zero. Mathematically,
M=0
3. If the body moves in any direction and at the same time it rotates about itself, if means that
there is a resultant force and also a resultant couple acting on it. A little consideration will
show, that if the body is to be at rest or in equilibrium, the resultant force causing movements and the reusltant moment of the couple causing rotation must be zero. Or in other
words, horizontal component of all the forces ( H), vertical component of all the forces
( V) and resultant moment of all the forces ( M) must be zero. Mathematically,
H = 0 V = 0 and
M=0
4. If the body is completely at rest, it necessarily means that there is neither a resultant force
nor a couple acting on it. A little consideration will show, that in this case the following
H=0

V=0

and

M=0

The above mentioned three equations are known as the conditions of equilibrium.

When an aircraft is flying level at a constant speed all four forces are in balance or equilibrium.

5.10. TYPES OF EQUILIBRIUM

In the previous article, we have discussed the conditions of equilibrium. As a matter of fact,
these conditions help us in finding out the reactions or forces at a particular point, when the body is in
equilibrium. But from practical point of view, a body is said to be in equilibrium when it comes back
to its original position, after it is slightly displaced from its position of rest. In general, following are
the three types of equilibrium :

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74 A Textbook of Engineering Mechanics

1. Stable equilibrium

Fig. 5.30.

A body is said to be in stable equilibrium, if it returns back to its original position, after it is
slightly displaced from its position of rest. This happens when some additional force sets up due to
displacement and brings the body back to its original position. A smooth cylinder, lying in a curved
surface, is in stable equilibrium. If we slightly displace the cylinder from its position of rest (as shown
by dotted lines), it will tend to return back to its original position in order to bring its weight normal
to horizontal axis as shown in Fig. 5.30 (a).
2. Unstable equilibrium
A body is said to be in an unstable equilibrium, if it does not return back to its original position,
and heels farther away, after slightly displaced from its position of rest. This happens when the addtional
force moves the body away from its position of rest. This happens when the additional force moves
the body away from its position of rest. A smooth cylinder lying on a convex surface is in unstable
equilibrium. If we slightly displace the cylinder from its position of rest (as shown by dotted lines) the
body will tend to move away from its original position as shown in Fig. 5.30 (b).
3. Neutral equilibrium
A body is said to be in a neutral equilibrium, if it occupies a new position (and remains at rest
in this position) after slightly displaced from its position of rest. This happens when no additional
force sets up due to the displacement. A smooth cylinder lying on a horizontal plane is in neutral
equilibrium as shown in Fig. 5.30 (c).
Example 5.13. A revolving crane is supported by a point at C and rollers at A and B. The
crane carries a load P applied at D in addition to its own weight W at E as shown in Fig. 5.31.

Fig. 5.31.

Determine the reactions RB and RC at the points B and C, if P = 4 kN, W = 2 kN,

a = 30 m, b = 09 m and c = 18 m. Neglect friction.

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Chapter 5 : Equilibrium of Forces 75

Solution. Given : Load at D (P) = 4 kN ; Load at E (W) = 2 kN; a = 30 m ; b = 09 m
and c = 1.8 m
Now let us use the conditions of equilibrium one by one.
...(For H = 0)

HC = RB
VC = P + W = 4 + 2 = 6 kN ...(For V = 0)

RB 1.8 = (4 3.0) + (2 0.9) = 13.8

RB =

or
and

...(For M = 0 about C)

RB.C = P.a + W.b

and

13.8
= 7.67 kN
1.8

HC = RB = 7.67 kN
Now the reaction at C,
RC =

Ans.
Ans.

H C2 + VC2 = 7.67 2 + 62 = 9.74 kN Ans.

EXERCISE 5.2
1. A spherical ball of weight 50 N is suspended vertically by a string 500 mm long. Find the
magnitude and direction of the least force, which can hold the ball 100 mm above the
lowest point. Also find tension in the string at that point.
[Ans. 30 N ; 40 N]
Hint. The force will be least, when it is applied at an angle of 90 with the string.
2. A jib crane shown in Fig. 5.32 is required to lift a load of 5 kN. Find, graphically, the
forces in the jib and tie. Also check the answer analytically.
[Ans. 13.7 kN (tension) ; 9.7 kN (compression)]

Fig. 5.32.

Fig. 5.33.

3. Two smooth spheres of weight W and radius r each are in equilibrium in a horizontal
channel of A and B vertical sides as shown in Fig. 5.33.
Find the force exerted by each sphere on the other. Calculate these values, if r = 250 mm,
b = 900 mm and W = 100 N.
[Ans. 133.3 N ; 166.7 N ; 133.3 N ; 200 N]

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76 A Textbook of Engineering Mechanics

4. A ladle is lifted by means of three chains each 2 m in length. The upper ends of the chains
are attached to a ring, while the lower ends are attached to three hooks, fixed to the ladle
forming an equilateral triangle of 1.2 metre side as shown in Fig. 5.34.

Fig. 5.34.

If weight of the ladle and its contents is 5 kN, find tension in each rope. [Ans. 1.78 kN]
Hint. First of all locate the point G of the equilateral triangle ABC. Now consider the
right angled triangle AOG and resolve the forces vertically.
5. A spherical ball, of weight W, rests in a triangular groove whose sides are inclined
at angles and to the horizontal. Find the reactions at the surfaces of contact.
If a similar ball is now placed, so as to rest above the first ball, one side of which is
inclined at angle , find the reaction of the lower ball, on the surface inclined at an
angle .

W sin
W sin
2W sin
;
;
Ans.

sin
(

+
)
sin
(
)
sin
( + )

QUESTIONS
1. Enunciate any two principles of equilibrium.
2. State and prove Lamis Theorem.
3. Show that if three coplaner forces, acting at a point be in equilibrium, then, each force is
proportional to the sine of the angle between the other two.
4. What are different methods of studying the equilibrium of coplaner forces ? Describe any
one of them.
5. How would you find out the equilibrium of non-coplaner forces ?
6. Explain the conditions of equilibrium.
7. Discuss the various types of equilibrium.

OBJECTIVE TYPE QUESTIONS

1. According to Lamis Theorem, the three forces
(a) Must be equal.
(b) Must be at 120 to each other.
(c) Must be both of above.
(d) May not be any of the two.

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Chapter 5 : Equilibrium of Forces 77

2. The Lamis Theorem is applicable only for
(a) Coplaner forces
(b) Concurrent forces
(c) Coplaner and concurrent forces (d) Any type of forces
3. If a body is in equilibrium. We may conclude that
(a) No force is acting on the body
(b) The resultant of all the forces acting on it is zero.
(c) The moments of the forces about any point is zero.
(d) Both (b) and (c)
4. If the sum of all the forces acting on a body is zero, then the body may be in equilibrium
provided the forces are
(a) Concurrent
(b) Parallel
(c) Like parallel
(d) Unlike parallel
5. A body is said to be in equilibrium, if it has no linear motion.
(a) True
(b) False
6. Lamis Theorem can not be applied in case of concurrent forces
(a) Agree
(b) Disagree

1. (d)

2. (a)

3.

(d)

4. (a)

5.

(b)

6. (b)

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