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Steel trusses are one of the most convenient structural systems available for roofs of industrial
buildings (where larger working space is required without intermediate column supports), spans
of bridges and towers. Truss-structures are formed by connecting various members at their ends
to form a system of rigid triangles, arranged in pre-decided pattern. All joints are assumed to be
hinged and external loads are generally applied at joints only, so that all members have to resist
only tension and compression.

Types of Steel Roof-Trusses

The first step in design of the roof truss is to decide the type of truss depending on the span length
and the pitch requirements. Different common types of steel trusses used for roof are shown in
the figures below. In selection of truss type, it is desirable to keep the joints as small as possible.
The length of panels in roof-truss depends on:
1) The spacing of purlins which depends on the type of roofing materials.
2) The slope of truss diagonals.
The slope of the diagonals should not be less than 45 0 and should not be more than 600 with

a) Howe trusses suitable for medium pitch (l = 6m to 24m)

Simple Fink (l = 6m to 9m) Compound Fink (l = 12m to 18m)

b) Fink trusses suitable for large pitch

c) North Light truss (l = 5m to 8m) d) Saw Tooth truss (l = 5m to 8m)

- suited for natural light - suited for natural light
optional optional

e) Pratt truss (l = 10m to 30m) f) Warren truss (Modified Pratt) (l = 10m to 30m)
-suitable for medium pitch -suitable for small pitch

1 Lecture notes on Roof-trusses, Tower-trusses and Building-frames: by Haftom G.

Design of Roof-Trusses & its Components

1) Pitch Requirements: The pitch (slope) of a roof is determined by the following criteria:
- Climatic conditions of the place (such as wind, rains & heavy snow)
- The nature of covering materials & over-lap (corrugate iron & asbestos cement sheets)
- Aesthetic condition
In area of heavy rain & snow, the slope of roof-trusses should not be less than the following:
rise 1
For corrugate Iron sheet ,
span 6
rise 1
For asbestos cement sheet ,
span 5
rise 1
For roof subjected to snow loads,
span 4
2) Spacing of Steel-Trusses: The economical spacing of roof-trusses work-out to be 1/3
to 1/5 of the span. For larger span, smaller spacing to span ratio should be used and vice-
versa. Generally, the spacing of steel-trusses is 4m.

3) Truss Members: Top-chord members are mainly compression members. If purlins are not
kept at panel points, top-chord members may take bending in addition to compression.
Bottom-chord members take usually tension; sometime takes compression if reversal of loads
occurs due to wind loads. Other members (diagonal & vertical) may take tension or
compression depending on the loading on the truss.
Members of truss mostly consist of single-angles or double-angles placed back to back;
double-angles for upper & lower chord members, and single-angles for diagonal & vertical
members. For compression members, it is economical to use two unequal-leg angles with
shorter legs outstanding.
If connections are made using welding, rectangular & square tubular sections may be used
for members of truss. Wide flanges & channels may also be used for members of trusses of
very large span and subjected to large loadings.

4) Joints of Truss: Details of truss joints are given as shown below.

a) Single-plane type: Suitable for connection of members made of single & double
angles sections. Connections of such joints are made using one gusset-plate.

One gusset
Single or double-
angle section

2 Lecture notes on Roof-trusses, Tower-trusses and Building-frames: by Haftom G.

b) Double-plane type: Suitable for connection of members made of wide-flanges &
double-channels sections. Connections of such joints are made using two gusset-plates.

Two gusset


5) Foot points (supports): Details of supports are given as shown below depending on the
supporting conditions of the truss.
a) Hinged Support with Expansion Ends

plate with
sloted hole

Roller bearing Sliding plate bearing Rocker bearing (heavy truss)

b) Hinged Support with Fixed Ends



3 Lecture notes on Roof-trusses, Tower-trusses and Building-frames: by Haftom G.

Allowable Stress Design Loads Combinations for Roof-Trusses
The following combinations of loads are used in design of roof-trusses without any increase in
the allowable stresses for wind loads.
a) Dead & Live load:
Wd Gk Qk
b) Dead, Live & Wind load:
Wd 0.8 (Gk Qk Wk )
Or, alternatively use
Wd (Gk Qk Wk ) with allowable stresses are increased by 25%.
c) Dead & Wind load:
Wd 0.8 (0.9Gk Wk )
Or, alternatively use
Wd (Gk Wk ) with allowable stresses are increased by 33%.
where -- Gk , Qk & Wk are service dead, live and wind load.
The largest of internal forces (maximum tension & maximum compression) determined using the
above load combinations are used in design of each members of truss. It is recommended to use
one-continuous section for all lower chord members, one-continuous section for all upper chord
members and one- or two-section for diagonal & vertical members.

Loads on Roof-Trusses
Once the type and proportions of the truss are fixed, the various loads acting on the truss are
computed so as to analyze the truss. These loads may be approximated as follow.
a) Dead loads: -include load from weight of roof-coverings, purlins, self-weight truss and
weight of bracings.
-Weight of Roof-coverings:
Asbestos cement sheet=160N/m2
Corrugate iron sheet=150N/m2
-Weight of purlins = 60N/m2 to 90N/m2
-Weight of truss: -For pitch of roof between 1/4 to 1/5 and the spacing of trusses equals 4m,
the weight of truss may be estimated using,
span ( m)
wt . truss ( N / m 2 ) 10 5
For other spacing of trusses, proportional weight may be taken. Generally, weight of truss
may be assumed between 100 to 150N/m2.
-Weight of wind bracing = 13N/m2.
b) Live loads: -determined depending on the slope of the roof as follow (IS:875-part 2).
For 100, LL (N/m2) = 750N/m2.
For 100<200, LL (N/m2) = [750-10x (-100)]
For >200, LL (N/m2) = [650-20x (-200)] 400N/m2.
c) Wind loads: -depends on the speed of wind, presence of obstruction and the characteristics
of the structure. Design wind pressure may be determined using,
p ( N / m 2 ) 0.6 v 2
where v design wind speed in (m/sec)

4 Lecture notes on Roof-trusses, Tower-trusses and Building-frames: by Haftom G.

The effects of wind on the structure as a whole are determined by the combined action of
external and internal pressure acting up on it. External wind pressure depends on the slope of
the roof and the direction of wind in relation to the ridge of the roof. Internal wind pressure
depends on degree of permeability of the wall to the flow of air. External & internal wind
pressure on roof may be estimated as given below (IS:875-part 2).
depends on
depends on
(Table 1) 0 .5 p 0 .5 p
(Table 1)

0 .5 p

+0.5p pin 0.2 p +0.5p +0.5p 0.2 p

0.2 p 0 .5 p
0 .5 p

Fig: Buildings with Normal Permeability (openings less than 20% of wall area)
depends on
(Table 1) depends on
0 .5 p (Table 1) 0 .5 p

pin 0.5 p pin 0.5 p

0.5 p+ 0.5p

Fig: Buildings with Large openings on one side (openings larger than 20% of wall area)

Table 1: External pressure coefficients for wind pressure on pitched roof when wind is
blowing normal to ridge, (ESCP:1/83)
, roof angle Wind ward
(degree) roof surface
0 -0.8
5 -0.9
10 -1.2
15 -0.8
20 -0.5
30 0.0
40 +0.3
50 +0.5
60 +0.7

5 Lecture notes on Roof-trusses, Tower-trusses and Building-frames: by Haftom G.

Design of Purlins
Purlins may be designed as continuous beam supported by trusses with maximum bending
moment approximately w.l2/10 (assuming purlin as three-span continuous beam) where w is total
uniform load on purlin including wind load. The loads are assumed to act normal to the roof.
Bending about the minor axis may be neglected.
W1 W1

W1 . cos W1 . sin W1 . cos W1 . sin

W2 Rafter Rafter

Angle purlin Channel purlin
Let W1 total vertical load on the purlin due to dead & live load.
W2 - wind load acting on the purlin normal to the rafter (upper chord)
Therefore, total load on the purlin normal to the rafter = (W1. cos + W2)
and, total load parallel to the rafter = W1 . sin
The purlins may consist of angles, channels or flanged sections. The angle and the channel
purlins are connected to the rafter by cleat-angles as shown above. While flanged section purlins
are usually bolted to the rafter directly. Open-web section may used for purlin. For trusses having
slopes not exceeding 300, depth of purlin is not less than l/45; and width of the other leg of purlin
is not less than l/60.

Bracings of Trusses
The pairs of trusses shall have cross-bracing in the planes of the top chords and bottom chords.
The bracing in the top chords is generally provided in the end pair of trusses. The smallest angle
section or steel rods (circular or rectangular) may be used for bracings. There should be
transverse bracing between the trusses located approximately at third points of the lower chords
and it is made stiff. The slenderness ratio should not be more than 250.

6 Lecture notes on Roof-trusses, Tower-trusses and Building-frames: by Haftom G.

Some Notes on Design of Building-Frames made of Structural-Steel

For building without cranes:

-Bays about 12m x 12m are likely to be economical for large square building
-Bays for rectangular buildings with a large ratio of perimeter to area, bays about 9m x
9m may be economical.
For building with light and medium cranes:
-Bays of about 7.5 to 9m will likely be more economical because of the crane-run steel.
Economical spans for single-story single-span rigid frames may range from 9m to about 60m. For
buildings with average roof load, the spacing of frames given in the following table will usually
prove to be economical.

Table 2: Recommended Spacing of single- story single-span building frames

Span (m) Frame spacing (m)

9 to 12m 4.8m
12 to 18m 5.4m
18 to 30m 6.0m
over 30m (1/5 to 1/6) of span

7 Lecture notes on Roof-trusses, Tower-trusses and Building-frames: by Haftom G.

Structures which support electrical transmission lines are either poles or tower trusses. Tower
trusses are used when lines are to be supported at longer distances. Longer spans of conductors
require tall towers to maintain proper clearance from ground at the locations of greatest cable sag.
Loads on Transmission Towers: -Towers are designed for loads caused by weight of lines
& tower, wind in transverse direction and, unbalanced cable force (due to weight of cable) in
longitudinal direction occurring when the cable broken on one side of the tower. The wind load
depends on the location of the tower, the conductor and their height. Wind load may be obtained
from the code.
If the cable is horizontal, the maximum tension developed at the end of cable due to the weight of
cable is determined by:
Tmax H . 1 16
where h --maximum sagging of the cable
l --span length of the cable
w . l2
H --horizontal component of support reaction of the cable
w --weight of the cable per unit length of cable
Analysis of Towers: -Square and rectangular towers are four sided trussed space frames. The
four legs of space frame are built-in at the foundation. There is horizontal bracing provided in all
the four sides which will make the trusses statically indeterminate. Commonly used geometry of
transmission tower is shown below.

Fig : Statically determinate tower truss

8 Lecture notes on Roof-trusses, Tower-trusses and Building-frames: by Haftom G.
The four legs of the tower are generally supported individually either in concrete or reinforced
concrete anchors. The legs have to resist beside down-ward forces, up-ward forces due to up-lift
caused by over-turning moment. For resistance of anchor to up-lift, it is assumed to be
counteracted by the weight of earth in an inverted frustum of pyramid with sides sloping outward
300 with vertical as shown below.

300 300

Three longitudinal cases of loading may be considered in design of towers:

i) Cable load parallel to two planar trusses of tower say plane-truss 1 & 3 as shown below. This
load will be inclined to horizontal. The vertical component is P Z, and parallel to plane-truss
1 & 3 is P 1. Both plane-trusses 1 & 3 will take half of the load P 1 (that is P1/2). Then, the
forces in the members of the truss due to P 1 are evaluated. PZ will be taken by the four tower
legs equally.

1 PZ 3
ii) The cable load is inclined at say 0 to the plane-trusses 1 & 3. The load will be
resolved along vertical as P Z, and in the two horizontal axes as P 1 & P2 where P1 is
parallel to plane-trusses 1 & 3, and P 2 is parallel to plane-trusses 2 & 4. The vertical
component, PZ will be taken equally by the four tower legs; P 1 will be taken equally by plane-
trusses 1 &3. P2 will be taken equally by plane-trusses 2 & 4.

1 PZ P2


iii) Third case comes when the cables are unsymmetrical producing off-center loading or when
some conductors get snapped. The vertical component, P Z will produce moment of
M b PZ . a . This moment will be resisted equally by plane-trusses 2 & 4; besides P Z

9 Lecture notes on Roof-trusses, Tower-trusses and Building-frames: by Haftom G.

will be taken equally by 4 legs of tower. The force P 2 is parallel to plane-trusses 2 & 4,
therefore, equally be resisted by these trusses.
The force P1 will produce torsion in the tower equal to M t P1 . a . Plane-trusses 1 & 3
will resist P1 equally. Considering bracing of tower as rigid, thus M t will be resisted equally
by two pairs of plane-trusses. If Pt1 and Pt 2 are the forces in trusses 1, 3 and 2, 4
respectively as:
Mt Mt
Pt1 & Pt 2
2l 2b
The four trusses are analyzed for separate action of P 1, P2, PZ, Mb and Mt.

2 PZ

b Pt1 1 3 Pt1 P2
P1 P
In case the trusses are statically determinate, the trusses are analyzed using static equilibrium of
the joint of the truss. In case crossed-diagonals and horizontals are provided, the trusses are
statically indeterminate. Approximate analysis of these trusses are made by assuming by either
the bracing members resisting tension only is taken effective or both the diagonals are assumed to
take the same magnitude of forces.

10 Lecture notes on Roof-trusses, Tower-trusses and Building-frames: by Haftom G.