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Precast prestressed concrete lintels are made of high-
strength concrete and wires of special steel. Such lintels
rely for their effectiveness on the properties of and
interaction between concrete and wires.
The aim of this leaflet is to give guidance on: the selection of
materials for and proportioning of concrete; steel
specification; principles of manufacture; and sources of
design information and prestressing equipment.
2. Requirements for precast lintels
Precast lintels must meet the following requirements:

They must contain sufficient steel to carry the load

once built in.

They must be as light, and therefore slender, as


They must not crack easily when lifted or handled.

It has been found that the last two requirements can be met
only if the concrete is prestressed, ie the concrete is
precompressed so that it will not crack easily. Ordinary
concrete lintels
Making Precast Prestressed
reinforced concrete does not work for such slender shapes.
Lintels must comply with SABS 1504:1990 Standard
specification for prestressed concrete lintels.
3. How prestressing is done
Prestressing is done, basically, as follows.
Steel moulds, long enough to make several lintels end to
end, are placed side by side on a concrete bed. The ends of
the moulds have holes in them; hole diameter is slightly
bigger than that of the prestressing wire. Movable stop-end
plates, with holes in them, are placed in the moulds to
divide the length into individual lintels. After the mould has
been treated with a release agent to prevent concrete
sticking to it, the wires are threaded through these holes so
that they protrude from each end of the mould. The wires
are anchored at one end and connected to a powerful,
usually hydraulic, jack at the other end. By activating the
jack the wires are stretched to the required extent and held
in this state (see Figure 1).
The concrete is cast and when it has gained sufficient
Figure 1: Prestressing equipment
Anchor block fixed to concrete bed
Anchor block fixed
to concrete bed
Clamp, grips steel wires
Concrete bed
Concrete fixed
to anchor block
Jack, fixed to anchor block pulls
clamp to stretch wires
strength the jack is released. The wires try to shorten to
their original length but are prevented by the concrete which
grips each wire tightly. The effect of this on the concrete is
to compress it, ie put it into a state of compression. We refer
to this process as prestressing.
Once prestressing has taken place, the wires between
lintels are cut through.
4. Equipment for making prestressed
precast lintels
The following are needed:

Suitable moulds (which may have to be purpose-


A jacking system incorporating a means of anchoring

the wires, jacks that can be closely controlled (for
accurately stretching the wires) and a means of
gripping the wires.
5. Materials
5.1 Concrete
A high-strength concrete made with fairly small stone is
used. Suggested trial mix proportions are:
Cement complying with SABS ENV 197-1;
strength class 42,5 or higher:* 50 kg
Concrete sand: 50 l
9,5 mm concrete stone: 50 l
Water: Sufficient to make a mix suitable for compaction by
medium to heavy vibration.
Concrete strength at specified ages should be determined
by making and crushing test cubes in accordance with
SABS Methods 861-1:1994, 861-2:1994 and 863:1994.
* Note that it is illegal to sell cement which does not bear
the SABS mark.
5.2 Steel
Published by the Cement & Concrete Institute, Midrand, 1996, reprinted 1997, 1999.
Cement & Concrete Institute
PO Box 168, Halfway House, 1685
Portland Park, Old Pretoria Road, Halfway House, Midrand
Tel (011) 315-0300 Fax (011) 315-0584
e-mail website
Cement & Concrete Institute
Use cold-drawn wire that complies with BS 5896:1980.
6. Design
A design for prestressing must include information on
concrete strength; grade and diameter of steel wire; number
of wires per lintel; prestressing force or extension; and age of
concrete when prestressed.
Suppliers of prestressing equipment can assist with designs.
Alternatively, a consulting structural engineer can be
appointed to carry out a design.
Names of consultants may be obtained from South African
Association of Consulting Engineers, Telephone (011)
Suppliers of equipment and materials for prestressing
Amalgamated Reinforcing
Telephone (011) 613-4411
Brian Biram CC
Telephone (011) 452-6978
Haggie Rand (prestressing wire only)
Telephone (011) 825-1076
Hawk Engineering
Telephone (012) 541-2660
Rope Constructions (Pty) Ltd
Telephone (011) 493-7956
Do not use mild steel, conventional high-yield
reinforcing steel or hard-drawn steel wire.