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RE: Compression flange bracing

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Thanks for your comments. I agree that decades of successful performance is
hard to argue with, but given the lack of a positive connection I don't
really feel comfortable relying on friction for compression flange bracing.
I discount bracing due to friction in my own designs, and either treat the
member as unbraced or else weld flat bar between the rafter top flanges at
midspan to reduce the unbraced length.  

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick.Drake(--nospam--at) [mailto:Rick.Drake(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Friday, October 29, 1999 9:12 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Compression flange bracing

The concept of bracing the compression flange of a flexural member is
to provide external boundary conditions for the lateral torsional buckling
state (failure mode for ASD types).  The brace must be strong enough and
enough prevent the entire beam cross-section from either twisting or
displacing.  The question you need to ask is whether or not the roof plates
heavy enough and stiff enough with enough normal force to prevent the
compression flange from twisting or laterally displacing.

I don't think that friction would be your first choice as a load path for
required bracing stiffness and strength.  However, we can't ignore the
of the situation also.  If a tank roof rafter actually overcame friction and
laterally torsionally buckled, its flexural capacity would be suddenly
and the roof system would sag.  However, if the rafter end connections are
strong enough, the rafters would now start to act like cable structure
members.  The situation would be stable, although with greater vertical
displacements.  Is this acceptable to your clients?

Another way to look at it is the famous list server line "Where are the
Have any AWWA designed roof structures "failed" because of the current
procedure?  If not, the curent design procedure is fit for purpose.

Rick Drake, SE
Fluor Daniel, Aliso Viejo


"Lutz,James" <JLUTZ(--nospam--at)> on 10/29/99 08:33:16 AM

Please respond to seaint(--nospam--at)

To:   seaint(--nospam--at)
cc:    (bcc: Rick Drake/AV/FD/FluorCorp)

Subject:  Compression flange bracing

The issue of compression flange bracing has come up in my practice on
numerous occasions with respect to rafters supporting the roofs of steel
water storage tanks. Typical practice is to not weld the rafters to the roof
plates, so compression flange bracing is only provided by friction of the
roof diaphragm. This is specifically permitted by AWWA D100, which allows
rafters to be designed as if continuously braced.

The argument I get into when reviewing the work of other designers is that I
think UBC (AISC Specifications) should overrule the AWWA procedure. The UBC
permits the use of "approved national standards" (e.g. AWWA) for the design
of ground storage tanks (UBC 1634.4), but I read this as applicable to
seismic design only. In all other aspects, the UBC should govern as is.

Anybody have any thoughts on the validity of counting friction for lateral
support? I can't imagine AWWA recommending this design approach without some
sort of basis.