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Table of Contents
 Principles of Chain Surveying:
 Base Line:
 Check Line:
 Tie line
 Offsets:
 (i) Perpendicular offsets.
 (ii) Oblique offsets.
 Principles of chain Surveying.
 Chain Surveying Procedure:
 Duties of the follower and leader During Chain Surveying.
 The duties of the follower (Chain man at the rear end of the chain) are;
 The duties of the leader (the chain man at the forward end or head) are;
 Recording the measurements in the Field Book.
 Precautions.

Amongst the various methods of surveying, the commonly used method is called chain
surveying. For less precise works chain is used whereas, for more accurate and precise work
other types of surveys are used.

Principles of Chain Surveying:

The principle of chain surveying is to provide a skeleton framework of straight lines,
which can be plotted to scale if the lengths of these lines are pre-determined either with a chain
or a surveying tape. The framework must mostly consist of triangles. For example, if all the
four sides of the figure “ABCD” are known, the figure cannot be plotted unless we know at
least the magnitude of one angle. But if we divide the figure into two triangles by a diagonal
AC or BD whose length has previously been determined, the plotting is possible due to the
formation of triangles of known sides. Or in other words, if the lengths AB, BC, CD, DA, and
BD are known, the quadrilateral ABCD can be plotted without knowing any angle.
Base Line:
The longest chain line in chain surveying is often called the base line. It is the most
Important line, fixes up the directions of all other lines. Since the accuracy of the whole survey
work depends upon the accuracy of the base line, it should be laid off on the ground level as
much as possible. Base Line should pass through the centre of the area. It is measured very
accurately, and all the necessary corrections are applied.

Check Line:
The mistakes made in the measurements as well as in plotting any of the lines may
distort the actual figure. Which is liable to pass unnoticed. These mistakes could be avoided by
performing the whole survey twice or thrice, but this may also be discovered by making cross
measurements which are called proof lines or check lines.

For example, the quadrilateral ABCD in the below Figure can be plotted even if only the
lengths of AB, BC, CD, DA, and BD are known. But, the mistake in any line cannot be detected
unless it is significant enough to change the shape of the figure. Or it is such that two sides of
a triangle appear less than the third side.

For this reason, the length of the other diagonal AC scaled from the plan should be equal to its
length measured on the ground. This line will enable the checking of the plotting, and hence it
is called “check line”. The check lines indicate the correctness of the work. The location of
check lines depends upon the local circumstances, as well as on discretion of the surveyor. In
general, a check line is one who joins some fixed points on any two sides of a triangle.

Tie line
A “tie line” is that line which joins some fixed points called “stations” on the main
survey lines. The purpose of a tie line is two-fold, i.e., firstly it enables checking of the accuracy
of the network and secondly locating the interior details which are comparatively far away from
the main survey lines.

Offsets: The details like corners of buildings, roads, fences, etc., included within the sketch of
the survey, are measured by lateral measurements with respect to main survey lines. These
measures are called offsets. Offsets are of two types.
1. Perpendicular offsets.
This is the most common method of locating objects. The perpendicular distance
measured from a known chainage point on the main line to the object is called the
perpendicular offset.

2. Oblique offsets.
The measurements which are not made at right angles to the survey lines are called “tie-
line offsets” or “oblique offsets.”

Principles of chain Surveying.

i. First of all, the site should be inspected with a view to find a suitable location for

ii. The survey lines should be as few as practicable and such that the framework may be

iii. If possible, a base line should be run roughly through the middle of the area on which
the framework of triangles covering the major portion of the area may be built up.

iv. All the triangles should be well conditioned, i.e., no angle should be less than 30° or
greater than 120° in a triangle.

v. Each portion of the survey should be provided with check lines.

vi. The offsets should be short; particularly for locating features which are important.

vii. A number of subsidiary lines or tie lines should be run to locate the details and to avoid
long offsets.

viii. As few lines as possible should be run without offsets.

ix. The obstacles to ranging and chaining should be avoided as far as possible.

x. The lines should lie as far as possible on the ground level.

xi. In lines lying along a road, the possibility of interruption during chain surveying, a line
at one side of the road should be drawn.

xii. The main Stations should be inter-visible and the main principle of surveying, i.e.,
working from the whole to the part, should be strictly observed.

xiii. The lines should be measured in an order avoiding unnecessary walking between

Chain Surveying Procedure:

For chain surveying, at least two men are required, but frequently three people are
employed. They are:
1. The surveyor, who does the reading and booking,
2. The leader, and
3. The follower.
i. To start the chaining of a line the follower holds the zero end of the chain in
contact with the peg at the beginning of the line and presses the handle with his
feet and stands firmly over it.

ii. The leader holds another end of the chain and goes along with the arrows and
ranging rods on the line.

iii. Nearly at the end of the chain length, he stops and aligns with the help of ranging
rod which he keeps vertical and faces the follower, who gives him instructions
by his arms.

iv. After alignment, the leader pulls the chain and inserts an arrow in to the ground
to mark the end.

v. The lateral measurements or offsets are taken from the chain line to any object
that is to be plotted on the plan.

vi. The chain line should be such that these offsets are as short as possible. While
pulling the chain, care should be taken.

vii. After taking the offsets, the leader picks up the staff rod and remaining arrows
keeping the chain a little away from the line so that the arrow placed is not
disturbed, starts moving ahead as before.

viii. As the follower reaches the arrow with the near end of the chain, he should
speak loud “chain” or “tape” to give a warning to the leader that he has nearly
reached the arrow or a chain length and immediately the leader stops.

ix. The follower holds the handle against the arrow and directs the leader to come
in line as before.

x. The leader again stretches the chain and fixes the arrow in the ground at another
chain length or make a cross if the ground is firm.

xi. Again, the leader walks in the line in the same manner and the follower now
picks up the first arrow, comes to the second arrow and gives instructions for
the third chain length.

xii. Thus, the whole process is repeated until the end of the line is reached.

xiii. The number of arrows with the follower is an indication of the number of full
chain lengths completed at any time.

xiv. After sometime the number of arrows should be checked mutually by the
follower and the leader so that no chain length is missed and no arrow is lost.
Generally, the number of arrows taken is ten and hence after fixing the tenth
arrow, the leader speaks out “arrows” which means that this was the tenth chain

xv. The follower then goes to the tenth arrow and picks it up after fixing a ranging
rod there. The arrows are then handed over to the leader, and a record is made
in the field book by the surveyor.

xvi. For the fractional length of the Chain, the leader stretches the chain beyond the
end station. While the follower holds the rear handle of the chain against the
last arrow. The leader reads the fractional chain length loudly, and the surveyor
notes the entire length of the line.

Duties of the follower and leader During Chain Surveying

The duties of the follower (Chain man at the rear end of the chain) are:

i. To give signals and instructions to the leader.

ii. To place the leader in the line of the ranging rod.
iii. To carry the rear handle.
iv. To pick up the arrows.

The duties of the leader (Chain man at the forward end or head) are:

i. To stretch the chain forward.

ii. To insert the arrow at every chain length.
iii. To obey the directions given by the follower.

Recording the measurements in the Field Book.

The field book is an oblong book with a hinge at the narrow edge, and the chain is
represented in it by one or two red lines or blue lines ruled down centrally along the length of
each page. The booking or recording of the field work is commenced from the bottom of the
first page. The double line book is better because the main chain line readings are separated
from offset readings. The station points are lettered or numbered, and a small rectangle or
triangle is drawn in the field book to enclose the chaining figure at the station points.

The lines meeting at the station point are also marked, and the reference sketches are drawn on
field book, and after this line survey, lines are run by chaining. When a chain survey is to be
conducted the necessary equipment should be taken, and reconnaissance or preliminary
inspection, of the area, should be made. By this inspection, the surveyor can judge the network.
Wooden pegs & ranging rods mark the station points. Then, the stations are marked the
reference sketches are drawn on field book, and after this, the survey lines are run by chaining.

The following points should be kept in view while booking the field notes.
1. All the measurements should be recorded as soon as they are taken.
2. Each chain line should be recorded on a separate page of the field book.
3. Figuring and writing should be neat, and legible overwriting of the figures should be
avoided completely.
4. The notes should be complete, and nothing should be left to memory.
5. Notes should be so full and neat that the draftsman who is unfamiliar with the area
surveyed may plot easily
6. Neat reference sketches should be given in the field book, and explanatory notes should
be added.
7. The field book should be kept clean, and no entry should be made in it, nor it should be
8. If an entry is wrong, a line should be drawn through it, and the count entry is made over
9. if an entire page of the Field book is to be discarded, it should be crossed and marked
cancelled and reference of the other page in which the correct entries are made should
be given on the cancelled page.


In this article, you are going to learn many things about surveying tapes and its types in details.
Surveying Tapes.
Table of Contents
 Surveying Tapes.
 Types of Measuring Tape Used in Survey.
 1. Cloth or linen tapes.
 2. Metric woven metallic tapes.
 Permissible errors.
 3. Metric steel tapes.
 4. Invar tapes.

The availability of long tapes has considerably increased the accuracy

in surveying without involving any undue waste of labour or of time. You’ll know different
types of Measuring Tapes used in Survey here. Measuring Tapes are now available in different
lengths and widths. But for comparatively short lengths to be measured, a tape of 30meter long
and 6 mm wide will be probably found as a more convenient size.

Types of Measuring Tape Used in Survey.

Surveying tapes are made of various materials and therefore can be divided into
different types as follows.
1. Cloth or linen tapes.
This tape is used for taking offsets. It consists of a varnished strip of woven linen 12 to
16 mm wide and it is attached to a spindle in a leather case into which it is wound. It is
generally available in lengths of 10, 20, 30 and 50 meters. At the end of the tape is
provided a brass ring whose length is included in the first hinge. The tape is very light
and handy. These should not be used for accurate measurements as they are subjected
to variation in length. They stretch when the pull is exercised and may be elongated
permanently. Its exposure to dampness causes shrinking. These are not durable, and
care should be taken in use as figures become illegible very soon. It is not very
commonly used in Surveying and Levelling.
2. Metric woven metallic tapes.
They are better than the linen tapes, but are not suited for precise works. They are meant
chiefly for taking offsets and subsidiary measurements. The metric woven metallic
tapes are manufactured in lengths of 2, 5, 10, 20, 30 and 50 meters. The length of the
tape includes the metal finger ring when provided. At every centimetre a black line 8
to 10 mm in height is drawn, and every five centimetres, are marked with an arrow in
black. Every decimetre and meter are marked to the full width (i.e. 16 mm) of the tape
by a line. The decimetres are marked in black and meters in red figures. The tapes are
manufactured from yarn and metal wire. The yarn is spun from good quality cotton or
linen, and the wire is of phosphor bronze, copper or stainless steel and is 0.16 mm (or
38 SWG) in diameter. The tape should be coated with a suitable primer of synthetic
material over which one or more coats of a flexible and high-quality enamel should be
given. The coating must be non-cracking and water resistant. In case of tapes of
denominations 10, 20, 30 and 50 meters, a metal ring is attached to the outer end of size
tape. The outer end of the tapes of these denominations must be reinforced over a length
of not less than 10 cm by a strip of cotton fabric or suitable plastic material. Over which
a strip of brass or any other suitable material should be rigidly fixed for protection and
for receiving the inspector’s stamp. The tapes of 2 and 5 meters should also have this
Permissible errors.
The permissible error in the length of the tape, when supported on a horizontal surface under a
tension of one kilogram shall not exceed the following limits according to IS: 1269-1958.

Denominations (meters). Possible errors (mm).

2 +-1.5

3 +- 3.0

30 +- 15.0

50 +- 20.0

In addition, in the case of 20, 30, and 50meter tapes, the permissible error from the beginning
of the tape to the lengths specified below shall not exceed the following limits.

Length (meter). Permissible error (mm).

10 +- 10

20 +- 15

30 +- 20
The 10, 20, 30, and 50meter tapes are supplied in a case made of leather or corrosion-resisting
metal, fitted with a winding device. The handle for the winding device should be suitable for
Winding the tape on the reel. It shall fold against the reel and should have a crank length of not
less than 25 mm. On the un-graduated side and also on the ease of each tape when provided,
the name of the manufacturer or his registered trademark and the denomination is legibly
marked in English. The purchaser can also get the year of manufacture marked on the ease.

3. Metric steel tapes.

They are used for accurate works and are made of Steel or of stainless steel. The outer
end of the tape is provided with a ring or other device for facilitating withdrawal. The
ring or other device is fastened to the tape by a metal strip of the same width as the
metric woven tape. The denominations of these tape measures are 1, 2, 10, 20, 30 and
50 meters. The most common lengths being 20, 30 and 50 m. The tapes are marked on
one side only, with a line at every five-millimetre, centimetre, decimetre, and meter,
the first decimetre having the millimetres also marked on the tape. The meter division,
in addition, bears the designation to every centimetre in the first decimetre is marked.
The ends 20, 30, and 50meter tapes are marked with the words ‘meter’. These surveying
tapes are lighter and delicate and get broken easily. The winding device is of substantial
construction and is such that when the tape is withdrawn by hand to any point up to the
limit of its measuring capacity. It holds its withdrawn length, and when the ‘finger
release device’ is pressed, the tape automatically rewinds into the case. The case is
made of corrosion resisting metal or of a metal with a non-corrosive finish. After the
work is over, they are wiped clean and oiled. If broken they can be mended by riveting
a piece of tape of the same width to its back. They are available in the width of 6, 9.5,
13, 16 mm. etc., according to IS: 1270-1959.

4. Invar tapes.
These types of surveying tapes are used for the highest precision works, e.g., for the
measurements of base lines, etc. in triangulation work. Invar is an alloy containing 36%
nickel and 64% steel. The main advantage of this alloy is that it has got a very low co-
efficient of thermal expansion. It is available in various lengths, the width being 6 mm.
It is wound on a metal reel of 25 cm in diameter. It is very costly and delicate and
therefore used with the greatest care. It should not be used for ordinary work.

Chain survey is suitable in the following cases:

(i) Area to be surveyed is comparatively small
(ii) Ground is fairly level
(iii) Area is open and
(iv) Details to be filled up are simple and less.
In chain surveying only, linear measurements are made i.e. no angular measurements are made.
Since triangle is the only figure that can be plotted with measurement of sides only, in chain
surveying the area to be surveyed should be covered with a network of triangles. Figure 12.11
shows a typical scheme of covering an area with a network of triangles. No angle of the network
triangles should be less than 30º to precisely get plotted position of a station with respect to
already plotted positions of other station. As far as possible angles should be close to 60º.
However, the arrangements of triangles to be adopted depends on the shape, topography,
natural and artificial obstacles in the field.

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