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# LGB 21303 APPLIED MARINE MECHANICS

METHOD OF SECTION
When one desires to find the unknown forces in only a few bars, then the method of sections is often the preferred method. This method also follows the same steps pursued in any Statics problem, but differs from the method of joints in the choice of subsystems. When applying this method we make an imaginary cut through the truss dividing it into two parts, which are referred to as sections. The cut divides some of the bars into portions, but never runs through a joint. When drawing free body diagrams of a section of the truss, we must represent the load exerted by one portion of the bar on the other portion of the bar. Since each portion must be in equilibrium, the direction and sense of that internal force is consistent with the forces exerted by the pins on the bar. The internal force is similar to the tension in a cable, except that truss members could be either in tension or compression.

EXAMPLE: Drawing and Solving for a Given Section 1 Here is the truss; only forces in bars CE and CF are to be found. All dimensions are in feet.

Each section forms a planar rigid body. In this sense it is like the 2-D subsystems considered in unit "Single Body", with three independent equations of equilibrium, for example two force equations and one moment equation. To visualize it, let us draw only the outline shape of the subsystem the section as shown below.

Do we need to analyze both sections, and/or the truss as a whole? Remember that we are interested only in forces CE and CF.

## LGB 21303 APPLIED MARINE MECHANICS

The left section interacts with supports and the removed portions of three bars: 6 unknowns are not solvable with only three equations. If we first determined the support reactions by analyzing truss as a whole, then the left section could be used to find the bar forces, but that would have required solving a total of two subsystems. The right section interacts only with removed portions of bars: there are 3 unknowns which are solvable with three equations. But we only want to determine 2 unknowns: CE and CF, so we may use only 2 equations, and not find DF.

Say that forces in bars EG and FG are needed. If we cut the truss as shown below, we would only have two unknown bar forces. Could the two unknown bar forces possibly satisfy three equations of equilibrium?

From the FBD, you can see that all forces pass through the joint G. So, summation of moments about that point is trivially satisfied. In fact, for this choice of cut, the method of sections is equivalent to the method of joints applied to joint G. Observation: * To form a solvable section cut through no more than 3 bars with unknown forces * In this example, the cut required to reveal the desired forces in the bars cuts the truss into two sections, such that one of them does not interact with any supports. In such cases only one subsystem (the section with no reaction forces) can be used to find the desired unknown bar forces

## LGB 21303 APPLIED MARINE MECHANICS

In this course from now on, for simplicity, we are going to draw the sections showing the cuts as follows;

EXAMPLE: Drawing and Solving for a Given Section 2 In this truss, all applied forces are in kN. Only forces in bars CD, IJ, and DI are to be found. Neighboring joints are separated by 3 m horizontally (e.g., A and B) and 4 m vertically (e.g., B and H).

Now you will draw the free body diagram for a section. We try to solve for the unknown forces in the bars, we find that neither section is solvable there are 4 unknowns on the left section, and 5 on the right section. Unlike with the prior EXAMPLE 1, here the whole truss has to be solved first for the tension in the cable or for the pin reactions.

## LGB 21303 APPLIED MARINE MECHANICS

Now both section are solvable so you could solve for the unknown bar forces, using either one of them (using both would not lead to independent equations).

Let us use the left section to find the unknowns, since it has fewer forces acting on it. As you should remember from previous modules, we try to simplify the solution process by choosing an equilibrium equation in which the desired unknown is the only unknown. For example, we could take moments about a point through which many forces pass. This moment center can be at any point, either on or off the subsystem. Observation: * The cut required to reveal the desired forces in the bars cuts the truss into two sections, both of which interact with supports. In such a case neither subsystem is solvable by itself. * Two subsystems were needed: one of the truss as a whole to find support reactions, and then one section to find the desired bar forces. We have chosen to solve the left section because it has fewer forces acting on it * It is enough to find just the unknown reaction that is on the FBD of the section chosen as the subsystem, in this example the tension T, since the left section was chosen for analysis * Note that to find IJ we use as moment center point D, a point not in the left section, since this is the point through which the line of action of the remaining two unknowns passes Summary * The section interacts with the remaining parts of the cut bars, and may also interact with supports. Commonly, the unknown forces in the bars are assumed to be in tension. * Avoid common mistakes: do not include internal forces in free body diagrams (when two connected members are both part of the subsystem, the interactions at that connection are "internal to the subsystem") * Strictly obey Newton's 3rd Law, drawing equal and opposite interactions on the two sections, in case both are drawn * Three independent equations of equilibrium can be imposed on each section, so the unknown forces in three bars could be determined from equilibrium of a section, provided that all the other forces are known (support reactions might need to be found first e.g., from the equilibrium of the whole truss)

## LGB 21303 APPLIED MARINE MECHANICS

Solving Truss Problems with Method of Sections You have learned how to draw the FBD for a given subsystem composed of a section of a truss, and how to solve for unknowns. Now you will need to choose cuts and subsystems to be able to solve for desired unknowns on your own. We choose a particular section as a subsystem because it allows us to determine desired unknowns in a simple way. Specifically, to choose a section we should: * cut through the bar(s) with the desired force(s) (otherwise the force does not appear in FBD) * cut through no more than three bars (otherwise the section is not solvable) If the cut required to reveal the desired forces in the bars cuts the truss into two sections, such that one of them does not interact with any supports, then only one subsystem (the section with no reaction forces) is needed to find the desired unknown bar forces. If the cut required to reveal the desired forces in the bars cuts the truss into two sections, such that both of them interact with supports, then neither subsystem is solvable by itself. We should first analyze the truss as a whole to find support reactions, and then one of the sections to find the desired bar forces. After solving for reactions, either section becomes solvable, but it is of course enough to analyze just one of them. Which one does not matter, unless more forces obviously act one compared to the other. Note also that it is not necessary to find all reaction forces. Only the unknown reactions that act on the analyzed section need to be found. Now you are going to practice problem solving on your own. However, we do provide a worked solution if you need help. In the following examples, you will practice applying the method of sections to this truss. Consider how various possible sections/subsystems can be used to determine desired unknowns. EXAMPLE: Solving Truss Problems with Method of Sections 1 Use the method of sections to find the forces in bars GI and GH of the truss shown. Attempt to do so entirely on your own.

## LGB 21303 APPLIED MARINE MECHANICS

The correct answers are: * GI = 211 kN (T) * GH = 83.3 kN (T) Solution to Example: Solving Truss Problems with Method of Sections 1 Here are two sections that would allow finding the desired unknowns. One could have also cut through bars GI, HI, and HJ, but those sections would have presented similar issues.

Consider these possible sections and revisit your solution earlier if it was not right. Look below for a discussion of the merits of these sections. Discussion on the merits of these sections Which section is preferable to find the forces in bars GI and GH? For Section a, one would need to find the support reactions at A and D analyzing the whole truss first. But supports do not interact with section b, so you should choose section b. To efficiently find GI, you could not use just one force summation since the other unknown forces GH and DH have horizontal and vertical components and so they would also contribute. Likewise, you could not find GH with just one force summation since GI also has a horizontal component. That leaves you with the moment summation. For a single moment equation, try to find a point through which the other forces pass, but the desired force does not. GH and DH pass through H, so it could be used to find GI. GI and DH pass through a point 3 m above K, which could be found. Moments about that point off the truss could be used to find GH.

## LGB 21303 APPLIED MARINE MECHANICS

Look below to see the equations used to find GI and GH. Equations used to find GI and GH

EXAMPLE: Solving Truss Problems with Method of Sections 2 Here is the same truss.

## LGB 21303 APPLIED MARINE MECHANICS

Use the method of sections to find the force bar FG. Attempt to solve this entirely on your own. The correct value is FG = 100 kN Tension Solution to Example: Solving Truss Problems with Method of Sections 2

Consider these possible sections and revisit your solution earlier if it was not right. Discussion on the merits of these sections Which section is preferable to find the force in bars FG? The reaction at one support appears in the FBD of each section. So, no matter which one you would choose you would have to first find reaction(s) from the analysis of the whole truss. Sections d and f only

## LGB 21303 APPLIED MARINE MECHANICS

have a roller support (one unknown), but they have more applied forces. Sections c and e have a pin support (two unknowns), but they have fewer applied forces. If you think ahead to what equation you would use to find FG, you would choose moments about point C for each of the above sections, since the other forces CG and CD act through C. Then, you would recognize that the horizontal reaction at pin A wont contribute anyway, only the vertical reaction will. Sections c and e have fewer forces than sections d and f. And it doesnt matter which one you choose, since both lead to the same moment equation about joint C, since the applied force of 300kN does not contribute. Equations used to find GI and GH Intend to take moments about point C, so only need vertical reaction Ay:

## LGB 21303 APPLIED MARINE MECHANICS

Use the method of sections to find the force in bar DK. Attempt to solve this entirely on your own. The correct value is DK = 75.4 kN Compression Solution to Example: Solving Truss Problems with Method of Sections 3

Consider these possible sections and revisit your solution earlier if it was not right. Discussion on the merits of these sections Which section is preferable to find the force in bar DK? The reaction at one support appears in the FBD of each section. The horizontal reaction is obviously zero, so each support has one unknown. If we think ahead to what equation we would use to find DK, we would choose moments about point G, since the other forces DE and JK act through G. This argues in favor of section b, since the reaction at G would not contribute to the moment about G anyway. Equations used to find DK

## LGB 21303 APPLIED MARINE MECHANICS

EXAMPLE: Solving Truss Problems with Method of Sections 4 Consider the same truss that you analyzed in the previous example.

Find the force in bar DJ. There is no single section from which this bar force can be found. If you have some ideas, you can attempt to solve this entirely on your own. But, we will help point the way below. The correct answer is DJ = 86.7 kN Tension Solution to Example: Solving Truss Problems with Method of Sections 4 We clearly need to consider more than one subsystem (in addition to using the whole truss to find support reactions). One subsystem needs to cut through DJ. Sections c and d are such subsystems. Section c has too many unknown forces in bars, since it cuts through 4 of them. Notice that section d is equivalent to joint J there are 3 unknowns, but just 2 equations Can one of the unknowns acting on sections c or d, (besides DJ) be found from another subsystem, which in turn would enable you to find DJ from either section c or d?

If you have enough of a start to complete this problem, try to do so. If you want more discussion, continue to the section below. Discussion on the merits of these sections For Section c, if we took moments about A, then IJ and DE do not contribute, but DJ (desired) and DK do. So, we would need to find DK from a different subsystem.

## LGB 21303 APPLIED MARINE MECHANICS

For Section d, we could apply the method of joints to determine DJ (desired) if we knew one of the other two forces IJ or JK. So, we would need to find IJ or JK from a different subsystem. Based on the experience of the previous problems, you should be able to find a section from which to find DK (we did that before), IJ, or JK. Equations used to find DK Using Section c: After finding DK section c would become solvable. In Example 6 you saw how to find DK = 75.4 kN Compression.

Using Section d: After finding JK section d would become solvable. Using the same section b that you used to find DK in example 6, you could find JK by taking moments about D (through which DK and DE pass), but we need support reaction Gy.

You can see that the first method was more efficient, although we also need to recognize that DK was found earlier. Summary When using the method of sections: * Cut through bars with desired unknown forces * To have a solvable subsystem do not cut through more than 3 bars with unknown forces * If the cut required to reveal the desired forces in the bars cuts the truss into two sections, such that one of them does not interact with any supports, then use the section with no reaction forces to find the desired unknown bar forces * If the cut required to reveal the desired forces in the bars cuts the truss into two sections, such that both of them interact with supports, then neither subsystem is solvable by itself. Analyze the truss as a whole to find support reactions (or just those needed), and then one section to find the desired bar forces.