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Graham Davidson graduated from University of

Queensland (BE Civil) in 1968, School of
Military Engineering in 1969, and University of
New South Wales (M Eng Sc Structural) in 1973.
After varied experience in bridge and structural
design in Australia and overseas (working to US
codes in Polynesia, and British codes in Hong
Kong), he returned to Australia in 1981, and has
been occupied since then supplying bearings,
vibration isolation systems, and deck: joints to
bridge and building projects in Australia, NZ, and
SE Asia. Since 1986 he has been employed as a
Design Engineer for Hercules Engineering,

ABSTRACT: Recent trends in bridge construction techniques are reflected in bearing

designs. Innovations abound, with uplift bearings, load-monitoring bearings, and
incremental launch techniques being constantly improved. Shock Transmission Units
(STU's) are also being used in bridges subjected to earthquakes.

lbe opportunities to use load-monitoring bearings to monitor loads and load-distributions

in new and existing bridges have hardly been scratched.

The '92 AUSTROADS Bridge Design Code (BOC) is permitting cost savings for bearing
suppliers since BOC clauses permit frictional assistance against lateral loads, (especially
incremental launch bridges); and permissible contact pressures have also been increased
(provided that the bearing parameters are properly specified).

On the other side of the ledger, new heavier load cases are becoming more and more
important, particularly the Heavy Load Platform (which can swamp the T44 tnick or lA4
lane loading), and earthquake loads, requiring considerable upgrading of bolts and shear
provisions. Uplift at the abutments is becoming more common, due to the variable ULS
load factors (depending on whether the dead load increases or decreases safety).

The adequacy of current (ULS) shear deflection provisions for laminated elastomeric
bearings and proposals to anchor them (i.e. prevent them from "walking") are also

Concerning expansion joints, the very real risk of high maintenance costs, and of accidents
and even death, surely warrant additional margins of safety. Many joints being installed still
do not comply with BDC minimwn requirements. Suppliers are being asked to warranty
their product for period of 5-10 years, to force them to add up-front quality in the interests
of long-term performance, and nett lower life-cycle costs.

Finally, this paper looks briefly at the success and costs of the push to QA certification,
(and to which code), and reviews the QA attitudes expressed in Specifications, as
experienced by a supplier of bridge bearings and expansion joints.


Bearings are among the most highly stressed components of the structure, and joints
are arguably the most suhject to fatigue loading. Despite increasing loads and more
sophistication, the cost of bearings and joints is still only a few percent of the initial
cost of the bridge. They have the potential however to be major contributors to
ongoing maintenance costs if they are not correctly specified, designed,
manufactured, and installed.

Bearing and Joint manufacturers must meet the Engineer's requirements as specified
- i.e. either

(a) from a code such as AS1523, (manufacture to QA code AS3902)

(b) from a manufacturer's catalogue, (AS3901 recommended), or
(c) custom-designed (AS3901 recommended) to suit a variety of load combinations
(temporary and permanent), movements, rotations, construction techniques, and
sub- and super-structure details - plus test loads, which may be critical. These
and any other constraints are ideally indicated in the Schedule of Bearing
Performance Requirements in the Contract Documents, which collects all
relevant factors and load cases.

A review of recent designs is now justified. Many trends are evident, arising from
'92 AUSTROADS Bridge Design Code (BDC), Quality Assurance (QA), new
construction techniques (and also perhaps the recession).

It is also timely to consider many technical points for future editions of BDC, and
indeed for the forthcoming revision of AS1523 ('Elastomeric Bearings For Use in
Structures'). The Eurocode philosophy that 'outlived technology should not be part
of an International Standard'(l) equally applies to our own codes.


2.1 Lateral and Incremental Launches of Bridges.

By far the most obvious trend in the bridge
construction scene is the use of launching
techniques, with projects completed or underway
in all States. 'Dual Purpose' bearings, which are 7
Dual Purpose Brg ,
used as launch bearings, and reused as permanent
Temporary /Permanenl
bearings, have demonstrated themselves to be
viable and simpler alternatives to the more usual latera I Roller
'changeover' designs. 7
Several bridges have now been launched using
highly loaded lateral rollers for lateral guidance
(and as far as we know this technique is restricted
to Australia), which mean that fewer personnel
are required for each of the launching operations. L ---.J

2.2 Load Monitoring Bearings.

Bearings fitted with load- 60 deg

~3t .- .- .- 1~;Y
monitoring transducers
have now been installed in
at least three Australian,-
.-1 ~
-- --
- fY
1 31j -- ,...
bridges, one a highly M N 13
skewed continuous bridge
in South Australia(2l, (Fig I EllL.1
2), one a curved bridge 12M N
relying on torsional i Pork TerracE
stiffness (NSW), and finally' Bridae SA'
a large cable-stayed bridge 11M N
(also NSW). Loads in
Abutt Brqs
234 13141516

These bearings give feed·back to tbe designer for comparison with calculated load
distributions. Clause 4.3 of the BDC requires that 'design engineers ... ensure that
bearing loads on skewed and curved bridges are rigorously assessed.' Without
feedback, current assumptions will remain unchallt:nged, and probably approximate
at best. The 60 degree skewed bridge mentioned above, which is mounted wholly
on (sensitive) load monitoring bearings - 16 in all - has quantified some interesting
eff~cts, including lateral hogging due to differential temperature, and skew.

2.3 Uplift Bearings.

Numerous bearings have been supplied with

uplift capacity. This uplift can originate from
cable-stays, high vehicle impact (under), train
derailment, buoyancy, skews, and short
endspans. Uplift usually means that bearings
cost approx one-third to one-half more.

There is a trend to providing ULS uplift

capacity (uitimate limit state) for abutment
bearings resulting, at least in part, from the
BDC ULS load factors of 0.85 and 1.2 on DL
(dead load) for first and second spans,
depending on whether the load increases or
decreases safety.

2.4 Thrust.Type Bearings.

Several bridges have been provided with thrust-type bearings, where horizontal load
is transferred, without any vertical load transfer. When pot bearings are used to
support the vertical loads, it is usually less expensive to incorporate the thrust in the
pot bearings rather than to provide separate bearings for the thrust only.

2.5 Shock Transmission Units (STU's).
t-- Deck
The Mekong River Bridge, although
not in Ausllalia, is interesting in that
one of the expansion piers has been
fitted with longitudinal STU's, which,
in an earthquake (EO), transform it Bellows
into a fixed support. These are . Shock Transmssion
Pier --{ Unit (filled with putty)
cylinders with normally low
resistance to movement, but very .Q92. Typical STU Installation
high resistance to instantaneous load.
In this way, two piers share the large longitudinal EQ load, making for more
economical pier foundation designs.



One Eurocode committee spokesman P ) for bearings summarises the importance of

PTFE as follows: 'PTFE allows the creation of modern sliding bearings..(and) has
taken a place of honour in the European standards, coming immediately after the
General Oesign Rules as Part 2' (of many parts). Pot bearings are typical, with
confined ruhher permitting rotation, and PTFE sliding against stainless steel.

3.1 Frictional Assistance against horizontal loads, and Friction-Only Anchorage.

Frictional assistance at the interfaces hetween bearings and interfaces is a cheap and
effective method of transferring horizontal loads, and is a major cost-saving feature
in BOC. This permits bolts to he smaller, in turn permitting a reduction (in some
cases) in hearing dimensions. This assistance is as reasonable as friction-grip bolting,
and as reliahle as gravity. The origins are in OIN4141. In cases of possible mine
subsidence, etc, the Schedule of Bearing Performance Requirements should give safe
lower hound estimates for the coexistent vertical load (Vcoex) with any given
horizontal load, H (or Hmax).

An important potential cost saving is the possibility of No

friction-only shear connection hetween bearings and
soffit of incrementally launched bridges. While
Clause 2.5.4 of BOC still requires at least some
anchors in each 'restrained continuous section', the
real henefits flow from a bold attitude - probably
outside BOC guidelines (as used in some existing WA
bridges - and in Germany) that accepts the logic of
friction-only anchorage, and uses it throughout the Bottom Sockets
length of the hridge, (with the possihle exception of (optional)
the point of longitudinal fixity). The ease of installing £!5L.§. Friction-Only
the permanent hearings with mortar contrasts with the Anchorage between
potential nightmare of using holts, and is a real honus Bearing and Soffit,
for the viahility of the incremental launch technique. Launched Bridge.

3.2 Minimum Lateral Restraint

Clauses 2.5.4. and 4.7 of BOC both make qualified references to the need for lateral
restraint, 500kN or 5%OL (Cl 2.5.4), and SOOmm' in crosssection (Cl 4.7). Almost
certainly, the intention is for these loads to be taken solely by bolts and/or dowels.
This load can be significant, especially for smaller bridges and footbridges.

3.3 Earthquake Forces.

Earthquake forces (CI 2.13) have become important for the design of longitudinal
restraint provisions. This is particularly so when CI 4.7 is taken into account, viz: 'in
Earthquake Zones I & 2, IJ (= frictional assistance factor) shall be taken as zero'
(severe). The following illustrates how a lesser EO load (with J.i = 0) can be critical
for the design of the attachment bolts between bearings and attachment plates.

Load Case: Loads other than EO Earthquake

Horizontal Load (SLS) per brg 650 kN 40() kN
Vcoexistent per bearing 4000 kN 3ROO kN *
Frictional assistance, steel/steel 10% NIL
Bolts are required to take 650 - .1 x 4000 = 250kN 40()kN
Min bolt size 4/M24 Gr S.R. 4/M30 Gr S.H.

Table 1. Comparison of Other-than-Earthquake and Earthquake Load Cases.

* The author urges further consideration of this matter with a view to possible
relaxation, e.g. to permit some frictional assistance with a suitable choice of H, V
and J.i - considering that BOC vertical accelerations are only about .05g (hence
3ROOkN*). Some past Specifications have permitted frictional assistance during EO.

3.4 Ultimate Load Check of Anchorage Provisions.

Currently anchorage is checked against SL..> loads ollly, (CI However, it
could be argued that these devices should also be checked using ULS loads (to
ensure a logical factor of safety against failure, as is the case in Europe.
[Note: The above assumes that bolts etc are part of the bearing, and hence subject
only to SLS design loads (as BOC permits). Clause 6 of DIN4141
Commentary argues that 'Fixing devices are integral components of the bearing,
and their design is essentially a matter of bearing design'].

Until such a ULS check is (clearly) required in the BOC - with suitably factored
loads (Hmax and Vcoex), and frictional assistance, designers should specify safe
values of Vcoex to ensure that bolts and other restraints are adequilte.

3.5 Maximum Contact Pressures on Mortar, Piers and Soffits.

Permissible concrete pressures are specified (CI 5.12.3) as ULS values. To check
these pressures, bearing suppliers must be aware of the ULS loads (see Table 2).

3.6 Summary of Load Cases to Fully Specify Pot Bearings to Meet '92 BDC:

Load Cases for the Specification V H J.Jste~l see

of Pot Bearings to BDC J.Jconcrete para
* Max Vert Load SLS 10000 650 kN nla
(for potwall design)
Max Vert Load ULS 13500 nla nla 3.5
(for vertical pressure on concrete,
assuming 60° distribution)
Max Permanent Vert Load SLS 6000 550 kN nla
(for pressure on PTFE)
** Hmax SLS with Min Vert Load 4000 650 kN 10% steel 3.1
33% conc
** HEQ SLS with Min Vert Load 3800 400 kN 0% 3.3
** Min Latl Restraint Force, ditto nla 500/2 or 0% 3.2
Min Positive Restraint Bolts 8oomm 2 3.2

Tahle 2. Summary of Load Cases, Pot Bearing Design to BDC (Example Only).
* Potwall design is usually dependent on the max value of (H + kV), where k is
approx 3 or 4. While it is usually easiest to assume Vmax and Hmax are coexistent
for this load case, although there can he some economy in using more specific values.
Horizontal load in particular should not be underestimated.

** These load cases are intended to provide the max value of (H-J.JV) for bolt design.

3.7 Miscellaneous Comments on PTFE loads and Overseas Trends.

• DlN414l permits a reduction in friction when a number of bearings contribute to

the total resistance to movement. The friction varies linearly from the full friction
(for up to 4 hearings) to half friction (for 10 or more bearings).

• Draft EC (Eurocode) (3) on Bearings suggests friction factors on grel\sed and

dimpled PTFE/austenitic steel is as per (BS54oo and) BDC. However, where
temperatures do not fall below -5°C, these values may be factored by 2/3:

Contact Pressure: 5 10 20 >30 MPa [ = P]

Codf of Friction .08 .06 .04 .03, ['" .125-.028 In(P) ],
In zones not <_5°C .053 .04 .027 .02 ['" .083-.0187 In(P) J.

• The Draft EC(3) also giv.:s ULS vnlues for maximum PTFE pressures, permitting
pot hearings to he designed for the more logical ULS values.


Plain Pads and Laminated Elastomeric Searings remair. popular and cost·effective
for small bridges, (although 'small' varies from state to state). Oespite uncertainties
in their behaviour (inel friction), they seem to receive preferential treatment in SOc.

4.1 Plain (NR) Pads.

While these bearings are cheap, their behaviour is very variable due to lateral slip
at the contact surfaces which has a high degree of uncertainty and they should he
used with caution, especially against steel or epoxy surfaces. To quantify the variation
of theoretical load capacity and compression stiffness, a plain pad 190x390x 16, with
shear deflection 8mm, and rotn 0.01 rads was checked against 3 codes for 55, 60, and
65 IRHO ruhher, as follows. SOC (holdly) gives 2 to 5 times the capacity (100 to
400% increase), while simultaneously predicting half to one-third the stiffness
(resulting in 12.5 times the theoretical 'allowahle ddlection').

Hardness 55 60 65 55 60 65
NAASRA Vmax= 126 78 63kN Kc= 173 169 193kN/mm
BS5400 Vmax= 123 148 173kN Kc= 85 103 120kN/mm
BOC Vmax= 247 296 345kN Kc= 60 72 84kN/mm

Table 3. Vertical Load Capacity of a Plain Pad. 19Ox39Ox16 to Various Codes.

4.2 Laminated Elastomeric (LE) Bearings. General.

In LE bearings, behaviour is more predictable than for plain pads, but bonding·and·
bulging of rubber (as in LE bearings) cannot tolerate the same overloading as
confinement of the rubber (as in pots), and is subject to many parameters such as
dehonding, creep, out·of·parallel of shims, and tolerances on ruhher strengths and
thicknesses. [These incidentally are parameters about which the disc of rubber in a
pot hearing remains blissfully unconcerned.

While the German view(l) that they 'have no confidence at all in the accuracy of the
established formulas for calculation' for LE bearings is somewhat pessimistic, anyone
who has tested an LE bearing will agree that the results for outwardly identical
bearings can show considerable scatter about the mean, and even greater variation
about the theoretical.

4.3 Higher Permissible Loads, Rotations, and Shears.

The SOC has relaxed several design rules for LE bearings in NAASRA - permitting
generally higher load capacities, higher rotations, and higher shear deflections - to
the extent that they should be treated as wise maximum values worth checking in
several load cases with sensible tolerances on loads and properties. For example:

• higher load capacities are permitted (except as noted below for stability etc), with
total shear strains some 9%, 15%, 19% and 27%, higher for IRHD 53, 60, 65,
and 70 rubber respectively. With manufacturing tolerances, rubber strains can be
about 35% (or more) higher again, so that the previous NAASRA value of 50%
of the ultimate tensile strain of the rubber can now approach 5Ox1.27x1.3 = B6%,
plus cover layer distortions due to shear (edge-curl) and rotation (lift oft), etc.

• rotations are permitted to twice the lift-off value (NAASRA and AASHTO use
the lift-off value, while BS)400 uses 1.5 times this value). Beyond lift-off, the
centre of contact pressure becomes increasingly eccentric, which is ignored in the
BDC's equations for l:sr, (shear strain due to rotation) clause 4.]2.8.]; and

• shear deflections are permitted up to 0.7 shear strain SLS (an increase of up to
40% from the ASI523 values); a slope of 55deg to the horizontal.

It is interesting to compare the permissible ranges of design loads for various

bearings according to various codes. Rather than use the 'Rated Load at zero shear
and zero rotation', the bearings are designed for a more realistic shear deflection of
say 0.5 shear strain, with a rotation of 0.0] rads (say 0.035 rads for mortar slope, plus
0.065 rads for girder precamber and/or LL rotations). Both maximum and minimum
values apply, excessive rotation lift-off on the one hand (Vmin); strain, stability, etc
on the other (Vmax). The value, 6, is the 50% shear deflection.
Bearing: 8AA 03:06:09R-5 8AA 04:09:02R 8AA IO:15:08R
35Ox170x1l2 350x280x45 600x6OOx177
(,=31,r=O.Olrads (, = 15,r=O.Olrads 6=66,r=O.Olrads

0.5 shear strain 31mm ]5mm 66mm

Permissible 191 < V < 415 not suitable, max not suitable, max
Range of rotation at this rotation at this
Loads with shear is only shear is only
0.01 rads 0.0014rads at 0.0084rads at
NAASRA 120kN max 2070kN max
Ditto, BS5400 112 < V < 450 526 < V < 760 1445 < V < 3900
Ditto, ASI523 236 < V < 370 not suitable, max 2700 < V < 2770
rotation at this (a very tighLrange)
shear is only
0.004rads at
630kN max
Ditto, SOC 92 < V < 451 427 < V < 626 1287 < V < 3559
in fact max rotn
0.012rads at

Table 4. Range of Acceptable Loads for 50% Shear Deflection, and 0.01 rads Rotn.

The rotational capacity (any load) of the 04:02:02R hearings is some (.012/.0014) or
8.6 times greater using SOC when compared with NAASRA, alheit at a different
optimum load (which has increased 4-fold from l20kN to 512kN).

Further, within the permissible range 427kN to 626kN, the vertical stiffness would
be considerably less than the pre-lift-off value. If we assume that the true value of
the compression stiffness of a bearing with partial lift-off is closer to that of the
remaining part (ignoring the lifted off section), then we find that the compression
stiffness of the SAA 04:09:02R hearing at 427kN is only 411kN/mm, or 63% of the
original value of 657kN/mm (at zero rotation). This effec;l is ignored in SOc.

(+ Com pression)

(+(~:,~l Sl~
Fi 7. Common Tests
/ ---
L,: ---
-_- __

4.4 Lesser Test Requirements.

In the past, all LE bearings to AS1523 were (usually) subjected to 150% overload,
followed by compression stiffness tests; some (usually 1 in 10) were also overstrained
in shear (125% design shear, or 62% strain) and tested for shear stiffness. Stability
tests were specified occasionally. SOC (CI 4.12.13) makes reference only to
compression overload, and shear stiffness tests, i.e.

• makes no mention of compression stiffness testing, (the only opportunity for a

quantitative non-destructive check of the uniformity of layers within the bearing);
• makes no mention of shear overstrain tests, requiring only that shear deflections
of 5% and 25% strain be applied during measuremeI.t of G (sometimes referred
to as G 5_2.I) to differentiate it from the AS1523 value of G, Go)' A strain of 25%
strain does not compare with the previous 62%, especially considering the new
70% design value;
• makes no mention of stability tests of tall bearings, even if this is the determining
factor in compressive load capacity;
• makes no mention of combined tests, e.g. shear together with 0.67 design load.

These tests (stahility, comhi ned tests, etc) can of course be specified on a case-by-
case basis - and frequently are by Western Australia's MRO and Westrail.

4.5 Stability Design Checks and Tests.

The BOC requires the designer to check on the capacity of bearings in buckling
stability, e.g. the capacity of bearing type 03:06:09R-5 at zero shear and rotation has
decreased from 930kN (NAASRA) to 562kN (BOC). Unfortunately 'stability' is a
relative term requiring definition of what lateral deflection is acceptable, visually and
structurally, both in the short and long term (with creep).

Codes such as BS6177 ('Selection and Use of Elastomeric Bearings for Vibration
Isolation of Buildings)' require stability tests to 200% overload with pairs of bearings
free to 'self-shear'. WAMRO and Westrail use design load only.

856177 does not give any quantitative criterion for acceptable 'self-shear' at the
design vertical load; WAMRO use 10% of the rubber height; Westrail use 5% of the
bearing height.

These tests are laborious, usually requiring 2 test setups with bearings back-to-back,
and with the top bearing rotated 90 degrees about the vertical axis for the second
test. (And even then, different values are obtained rotating about horizontal axes.)

It is worth giving some background to the buckling of LE's, since it differs from
normal Euler buckling. Gent(S) develops formulae for the critical buckling load of
a LE column, restrained at one end, the other end tree to move In Its bWn plane.

Pdf (I+Pc!K') = (nIL)', .....( 1)

Pc = (K'/2). [ J(1 + 4.F) - 1] .....(2)
Pc critical buckling load
T tilting stiffness of a single unit
T' reduced tilting stiffness of a single unit
K shear stiffness of a single unit
K' reduced shear stiffness of a single unit
L height of column
hT total thickness of a column unit, comprising a rubber layer a}1d rigid
separating plate
F = (4.T'. n' ) / (K'. L').

For the two cases of a typical steel column (high shear stiffness, F < < 1), and a LE
(shear stiffness small compared to tilting stiffness) this reduces to

Sted Columns LE 'Columns'

Pc = n'T'IL', .....(3) and Pc = (nIL) J(T'K') .....(4)
i.e. Pc a IlL' and Pc a IlL

Equation 3 is the familiar Euler formula for the critical load for a strut. Equation
4, for a LE bearing, gives a different dependence 01. bearing height, and includes
shear stiffness. This effect can swamp the tilting stiffness to the extent that LE
bearings may buckle about the short axis, or perhaps diagonally, where conventional
thinking would expect buckling about the long axis (greater Ur ratio).

Incidentally, bridge designers should not expect the impossible from the bearing
supplier, since the bearing design may be the source of 'instability' (whatever that
may pe defined to be), even for bearings 'perfectly' constructed - to AS1523
tolerances. Low shear and rotational stiffnesses go hand-in-hand with potential
buckling problems. (The new shear test, 5-25% strain only, is in fact a concession to
stability and P-c5 effects).

Certainly the buckling capacity will be further affected by any tapering rubber layers
- just as it will by rotation across the bearing, or shear deflection due to longitudinal
bridge movements, etc. If a lateral deflection of (about) 10% of the bearing height
is not acceptahle, then a LE is probably not the right choice of bearing for that
location - or perhaps thrust bearings or similar are required. While not warranted
for squat bearings, testing is recommended for 'tall' bearings' and becomes an
expense to be considered.

4.6 Shear Tests, and Test Load Combinations.

WAMRD and Westrail Specs have in the past included 'Proof Tests with 150% of
the rated shear deflection with both 50% and 150% of the rated load at maximum
shear. The 50%V plus 150%H test can be difficult, with slippage occurring unless
specially rough surfaces are used.

It would be reassuring and realistic if testing was occasionally carried out with all
combinations of compression, rotation, shear, and stability test arrangements - with
suitable ULS load factors - cycled as necessary for fatigue and 'crawling/walking'
effects, and without emery or similar treatment of test press platens. These are not
currently required in BDC however.

One such test attempted by the author without special surfaces (viz SAA 03:06:09R,
150kN test load, with 0.015 rads taper plate, and attempted shear of 31mm, i.e. 50%
strain) was found on removal of all loads to have slipped more than 10mm. A wise
requirement for any shear tests is that they be cycled twice with all loads removed
between tests, and without adjustment of the horizontal dial gauge; this is a very
effective way of checking against slippage.

Combination load-case tests (Ioad/shear/rotation/stability) on LE bearings could

include the following, with ULS factors applied, and freedom to slip and buckle:

• Vmin ULS (eg O.85DL) with 1.3 shear deflection (or 1.3Hmax) and 1.0 rotn, and
• Vmax ULS (eg 1.2DL+ 1.5LL) with 1.3 shear deflection (or 1.3Hmax) and 1.0rotn
It is also interesting to compare 1.5 test factors on horizontal overload in other types
of bearings, and 1.3 (nom) reserve factors on movement capacities.

4.7 Shear Deflection Limit.

Given that many bearings could not be tested in such combinations (due to slip etc),
it would seem sensible and consistent to permit a shear strain of D.7 as a ULS
maximum rather than SLS (as per BDC). All other bearings - and joints - are after
all designed to ULS movements, BDC CI, Certainly CI C4.12.8.3
referring to further relaxing the current shear dd1t:ction rules should be questioned,
at least until combination tests as above are carried out.

4.8 Friction.

The concept of friction at the contact surfaces of LE bearings is quite nebulous. The
BDC requirement that cover layers are in effect some 1.4 times their true thickness
is an admission that lateral slip occurs at contract surfaces as load varies. Also, it is
normal for wax to be exuded at the surface of the rubber as protection against
ozone. This too is hardly ideal for frictional transfer of loads.

Certainly, since friction-alone anchorage is permitted for rubber, then one would
reasonably expect the same concession for steel - in the same circumstances - which
does not spread, crawl, walk exude wax, etc.

4.9 Effect of Manufacturing Tolerances on the Stiffness, etc, of LE Bearings.

Clause 4.12.5 states that 'large tolerances are required in meeting specified stiffness
properties of elastomeric bearings.. of the order of ±2D%....and the effects of these
tolerances should be considered in the design of the structure'. This ±2D% value
is worth checking for possible inconsistency.

Let us also investigate the effect on the bearing of permissible AS 1523 variations in
rubber hardness (IRHD 53±5), plan dimensions (±4mm), and layer thickness
(±Imm), using BDC formulae, in particular the effect on:

(a) the theoretical shear stiffness, Ks

(b) the theoretical compression stiffness, Kc
(c) the total shear strain (£tat = ESC + £sh + £sh), specified as « 2.6/JG).

Consider the tolerances for a typical bearing SAA Part No 04:09:D2R, 35Ox280x45.
The following table illustrates the massive cumulative effects of these three variables
(area, thickness, and G value (i.e. shear modulus) - but ignoring temperature effects
on G).

The assumption that layer thicknesses are within AS1523 specified tolerances is a
very brave one, since Cat 3 tests are never specified. Perhaps random destructive
tests to prove it are justified based on the results below.

In the following table, the tolerance on Ks and Kc is well outside the ±20% value,
(which in turn has major effects on permissible loads and rotations), and the
theoretical 'total shear strain' of 3.13 is exceeded by some 35% (i.e. 4.25).

The ranges of permissihle loads for 0.010 rads is shown. It is in no way evident that
the BDC can accommodate these cumulative tolerances. In the following table, ti, tc,
and ts are thicknesses of internal layers, cover layers, and steel shims respectively.
Bearing: 'SAA 04:08:02R' SAA 04:09:02R 'SAA 04:10:02R'

Description ti=8, tc=6, ts=5.4 ti=9, tc=6, ts=5 ti= 10, tc=6, ts=4.7
O/all 284 x 354 x 44 280 x 350 x 45 276 x 346 x 46
Shim Area, A 264x334 = 88176 26Ox330 = 85800 256x326 = 83456
Rubber lRHD 58 53 48
G S_2.1 .84 .69 .54
Eint layers 364 252 167
Ecover layers 338 283 225

(a) Ks 3.02 (ie +34%) 2.25 1.61 (ie -28%)

(b) Kc 942 (ie +43%) 657 429 (ie -35%)

Load Capacity 1323 1287 1154

V(r=0,6=max) . 1323 1077 845
V(r=max,6=0) 717 625 521
at rmax .011 rads at .015 rads at .019 rads
V(r=max, 524 468 ' 400
6 = max) at rmax .008 rads at .011 rads at .015 rads
V for O.OlO 622 < V < 880 427 < V < 905 274 < V < 820
V for .0lO n/a 427 < V <799 274 < V < 540
rads,6=max rmax only .OO8rad

(c) Alternatively, for given load, roln & shear, 'total shear strain' is given by:
For V=1287, 1.87 2.67 3.95
r=0,6=0 (15MPa critical)
For V=625, 3.18 3.13 3.41
For V=1077, 2.45 3.13 4.25
r=0,6=21 (= 3.13 + 35%)
For V=468, 3.20 3.13 3.35
r=.Ol1, 6=21
able ~. hi ect a vanatlOns In ~yer hICk ess an l S.2.1 on Vanous Parameters.

The above table illustrates the difficulties in designing and specifying unconfined
rubber, and the scatter of internal and external effects for a given design. The cost
of LE b.gs should include sufficient testing to alleviate some of these QA
uncertainties. Any cost comparison with other bearings should also, of course,
include any special anchorage provisions and/or thrust-type bearings provided.

Finally, BS5400 Part 9.1, App A (e) suggests that the significant design parameters
to be specified for LE brgs are (generally) maximum dead and live loads, maximum
rotation, maximum shear, and the maximum ratio of rotation to coexistent vertical
load. Several load cases can be specified if required for better economy of design.


Concerning expansion joints, the very real risk of high maintenance costs, and of
accidents and even death, surely warrant additional margins of safety rather than any
thought or reducing current rules. Many joints being installed still do not comply
with BDC minimum requirements (e.g. 1600mm'/m for anchors).

Some joint types consistently fail or wear out after 10 or 15 years, and yet are
specified for new projects. Suppliers could supply joints, and be rewarded after 15
years with an order for the replacement of the entire joint. Other joints show every
sign of outlasting the structure in which they are installed.

Suppliers are now being asked to warranty their product for period of 5-10 years,
hopefully to force them to add up-front quality in the interests of long-term
performance, and nell lower life-cycle costs (and greater safety). This can only be
a positive trend. (Longterm warranties could go hand-in-hand with the maintenance
contracts if necessary).


7.1 A Nationwide Approach to QA.

A recent initiative, Nov 1993, towards a national approach to QA in road and bridge
contracts, with workshops in every state, was a very welcome if somewhat overdue
development(b). Likewise, the NSW Govt Capital Projects Procurements Manual will
require QA from October 1994, again, a very slow start since introduction pre-1991.
The sad truth is, that until QA becomes mandatory for all tenderers & suppliers, it
cannot he cost-effective. Either we work longer, or we hire an army of clerical
tradesman - either wayan extra cost. If QA is optional, then suppliers who take up
the QA challenge will slowly lose market share as they pass on the inevitable
overheads of selling up and maintaining their QA system.

One hears various claims of unfairness to those not using QA, and Restrictive Trade
Practices, if the Authorities were to insist on QA systems prematurely. Surely, there
have been clear signs for long enough that this was inevitable. In fact, it is unfair on
those with QA to delay the introduction of QA any longer.

In the case of bridge bearings, AS3901 is the ohvious QA system for suppliers
claiming to be designers as well as manufacturers. It would seem logical to include
this requirement in the main contract documents. To require AS3902 is to suggest
that 'it doesn't matter how well the bearings are designed, as long as they are
manufactured correctly'.

One final point is that it would be a tragedy if we all became so entangled with QA
management skills, that paper-shuftling became the prime ohjective. QA should
lead, through initiative and technical honesty, to technical excellence. Ask the hard
questions, including challenges to code rules, and at least consider the hard answers.

7.2 Engineer's Certificate.

Finally, RTANSW (Roads and Traft'ic Authority) Specifications for pot bearings now
require an Engineer's Certificate with a formal proposal for the bearings, as a formal
'Hold Point', confirming that the designs comply with the Contract requirements.

This in turn could be made to mesh neatly with the proposed Section 3 (Practicing
Engrs) of the National Professional Engineers Register which is currently being
implemented hy the Canberra branch of the Institution of Engineers, Australia.
[This register will provide Government Departments with an opportunity to certify
that Practicing Engineers, memhers and non-memhers alike, have appropriate
qualifications and experience.] This Certificate (and this Register) are a brilliant
backup to the QA system, and help to close some of the loopholes that exist while
QA (in particular to AS3901 - including Design) is being developed throughout the
industry. Where AS3901 requires that 'design and verification activities.. be assigned
to qualified personnel' -which is a fairly vague and open requirement - the
Engineer's Certificate at least ensures that an Engineer was involved, and that he has
committed himself professionally to the design. ;


1. Eggert, H., "Standardisation of Bridge Bearings: a Report on German Standards

and a Proposal for an International Standard", 1986, 2nd World Congress on
Joints and Bearings, Vol 2, ACI Publicn SP 94-32, pp 549-550.
2. Davidson G. 'The Role of Pot Bearings in Some Recent Interesting Bridge
Projects" AUSTROADS Bridges Confert:nce, Nov 1991, pp 624-630.
3. Medeot, R., "Guidelines for the Use of PTFE in European Standards on
Structural Bearings", World Congress on Joint Sealing and Bearing Systems For
Concrete Structures, 1991, pp 697-703.
4. Eggert, H., (Report on) 'The European Standard on Structural Bearings (Part 2)",
World Congress on Joint Sealing and Bearing Systems For Concrete Structures,
1991 pp 692.
5. Gent, A., "Elastic stability of Rubber Compression Springs". Journal of Mech
Engng Sci 1964, p6, 318.
6. Davidson G. "Quality Assurance and Specifications Around AUSTROADS BDC
For Bridge Bearings", AUSTROADS Bridges Conference, Nov 1991, pp 633-639.