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RE: Catenary Tension and Geometry

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Do you have a copy of Timoshenko’s “Theory of  Structures” ? It is a great text and provides good derivations and proofs for cables. Basic concepts are discussed in the article on Flexible Suspension Cables and further discussed in the chapter on Suspension Bridges.


Other texts would be D.B. Steinman’s “A Practical Treatise on Suspension Bridges” and Hool and Kinne’s “Movable and Long Span Bridges”.  Also, there are good basic cable derivations in US Steel’s Wire Rope Engineering Handbook as well as other general publications on cable engineering.


And of course last but not least, check your old differential equations texts, some of the basic tenants included the classical derivation of the differential equation of the flexible or hanging cable.


Good luck and hope this helps.





Thomas J. Cummings, PE

Manager - Bridge Design Practice

Gannett Fleming Engineers and Architects, P.C.

One Penn Plaza, Suite 2222

250 West 34th Street

New York, NY 10119

P:  (212) 967-9833 Ext. 5244

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E:  tcummings(--nospam--at)


From: Garner, Robert [mailto:rgarner(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Wednesday, October 18, 2006 6:18 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Catenary Tension and Geometry


I'm doing some transmission tower design and the loads are from the cables (electrical conduit).  I know in my "gut" that the sag to span ratio does not change when varying the weight of the cable, only the cable tension changes.  But I can't find a good proof of this.  Anyone have any ideas.  Thanks in advance.


Bob Garner, S.E.


R. Garner

Moffatt & Nichol

Tel.:  (619) 220-6050

Fax.: (619) 220-6055

e-mail: rgarner(--nospam--at)


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