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Conditions for Equilibrium

A body is said to be in equilibrium if
1. The resultant of all the forces acting
on a body is equal to zero (F = 0 or
Fnet=0)(linear acceleration = 0ms-2).
2. The resultant of all the moments or
torques (T) acting on the body is
equal to zero (T=0, Tnet=0)
(angular acceleration =0ms-2).

Parallel forces

Principle of Moments
Sum of upward forces = sum of
downward forces
Sum of anticlockwise moments =
sum of clockwise moments
* A moment or torque about a point
is found by multiplying the force by
the perpendicular distance from the
line of action of the force to the

Tips to Note
The pivot point is chosen such that
we eliminate all the unknown forces
at a point.
Turning effect, moment and torque
all have the same meaning and are a
measure of the ability of a force to
rotate a body about a point.
Remember not to confuse Nm in
moments with Nm in Joule (Energy).

Triangle of Forces(Vector
This is a quick method if determining
whether or not the forces are in
equilibrium using scaled vector
If the forces are not in equilibrium
the triangle will not close.
If three forces are in equilibrium,
they can be represented in
magnitude and direction by the three
sides of a triangle taken in order.

Example: Ladder Problem

Tip to Note
The three forces (W, R and F) must
all pass through the same point in
order to balance their resultant.

Example 1: Triangle of
A uniform ladder of weight 200N and
length 12m is placed at an angle of 600 to
the horizontal, with one end B leaning
against a smooth wall and the other end A
on the ground. Calculate the reaction force
R of the wall at B and the force (F) of the
ground at A.

Use an appropriate scale to represent
the forces given. Here we are given
the weight (W =200N) ( E.g 1cm =
Complete the vector triangle
Measure the lengths of the sides of
the triangle used to represent F and
R to determine their magnitudes

Example 2: Triangle of
Consider the three forces shown
below. Find the angles that the 7N
and 8N force makes with the


Example 3: Triangle of
A massive iron ball (200 kg) is used to
speed up demolition work. It hangs from a
single steel cable. It is hauled back using a
horizontal rope, then released, to swing
into the doomed building. If the rope
cannot safely tolerate a tension of more
than 1000 N, What is the maximum angle
from the vertical for the steel supporting

1) Choose a suitable scale for the vector
E.g 1cm = 500N
2) Draw lines of length proportional to the
magnitude of the known forces acting at the
point taken in order.
3) Complete the triangle and measure the
length of the unknown force
4) Using a protractor, measure the angle at
which the force is acting from the point.

Practice: Tension in the rope

Calculate the tension in the wire
supporting the 70.0-kg tightrope
walker shown below

Inclined plane

A car of weight W is positioned on a
road sloping at an angle of 300 to the
horizontal. The frictional force on the
car is 4000N acting up the road along
BC. Find W and the normal reaction
force R of the road on the car.

Tip to Note
The acceleration down the slope is
independent of the mass of the object.
Applying Newtons second law for the
resultant force acting down the slope:

F = ma
mgsin = ma
Therefore, a = gsin

Two equal and opposite forces whose
lines of action do not coincide are said to
from a couple (E.g opening a bottle cap)
These two forces tends to produce some
The torque (T or ) due to a couple is
equal to the magnitude of one of the
forces (F) x perpendicular distance
between their lines of action (d).

Example: Couple
What is the magnitude of the torque
due to the couple shown in the figure
Ans: 4Nm

Two parallel forces F act in opposite
directions along the sides AD and CB
of a rectangular plate ABCD. Two
equal and opposite forces of 2N act
along the sides CD and AB as shown.
Calculate F if the plate does not
F = 3N