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CONCRETE

having popularized the use of this invaluable combination. The important point of his idea was that it combined steel and concrete in such a way that the best qualities of each material were brought into play. Concrete is readily procured and easily moulded into shape.

EB1911 Concrete Fig 1.— Expanded Steel Concrete Slab.jpg
Fig. 1.—Expanded Steel Concrete Slab.

It has considerable compressive or crushing strength, but is somewhat deficient in shearing strength, and distinctly weak in tensile or pulling strength. Steel, on the other hand, is easily procurable in simple forms such as long bars, and is exceedingly strong. But it is difficult and expensive to work up into various forms. Concrete has been avoided for making beams, slabs and thin walls, just because its deficiency in tensile strength doomed it to failure in such structures. But if a concrete slab be “reinforced” with a network of small steel rods on its under surface where the tensile stresses occur (see fig. 1) its strength will be enormously increased. Thus the one point of weakness in the concrete slab is overcome by the addition of steel in its simplest form, and both materials are used to their best advantage. The scientific and practical value of this idea was soon seized upon by various inventors and others, and the number of patented systems of combining steel with concrete is constantly increasing. Many of them are but slight modifications of the older systems, and no attempt will be made here to describe them in full. In England it is customary to allow the patentee of one or other system to furnish his own designs, but this is as much because he has gained the experience needed for success as because of any special virtue in this or that system. The majority of these systems have emanated from France, where steel concrete is largely used. America and Germany adopted them readily, and in England some very large structures have been erected with this material.

EB1911 Concrete — Expanded Metal.jpg
Expanded Metal.
EB1911 Concrete Fig 2. Section theough Intersection.jpg
Section through Intersection.
Fig. 2.

The concrete itself should always be the very best quality, and Portland cement should be used on account of its superiority to all others. The aggregate should be the best obtainable and of different sizes, the stones being freshly crushed and screened to pass through a 7/8 in. ring. Very special care should be taken so to proportion the sand as to make a perfectly impervious mixture. The proportions generally used are 4 to 1 and 5 to 1 in the case of gravel concrete, or 1:2:4 or 1:2½:6 in the case of broken stone concrete. But, generally speaking, in steel concrete the cost of the cement is but a small item of the whole expense, and it is worth while to be generous with it. If It is used in piles or structures where it is likely to be bruised the proportion of cement should be increased. The mixing and laying should all be done very thoroughly; the concrete should be rammed in position, and any old surface of concrete which has to be covered should be cleaned and coated with fresh cement.

EB1911 Concrete Fig. 3.—Hennebique System.jpg
Fig. 3.—Hennebique System.

The reinforcement mostly consists of mild steel and sometimes of wrought iron: steel, however, is stronger and generally cheaper, so that in English practice it holds the field. It should be mild and is usually specified to have a breaking (tensile) strength of 28 to 32 tons per sq. in., with an elongation of at least 20% in 8 in. Any bar should be capable of being bent cold to the shape of the letter U without breaking it. The steel is generally used in the form of long bars of circular section. At first it was feared that such bars would have a tendency to slip through the concrete in which they were embedded, but experiments have shown that if the bar is not painted but has a natural rusty surface a very considerable adhesion between the concrete and steel—as much as 2 cwt. per sq. in. of contact surface—may be relied upon. Many devices are used, however, to ensure the adhesion between concrete and bar being perfect. (1) In the Hennebique system of construction the bars are flattened at the end and split to form a “fish tail.” (2) In the Ransome system round bars are rejected in favour of square bars, which have been twisted in a lathe in “barley sugar” fashion. (3) In the Habrick system a flat bar similarly twisted is used. (4) In the Thacher system a flat bar with projections like rivet heads is specially rolled for this purpose. (5) In the Kahn system a square bar with “branches” is used. (6) In the “expanded metal” system no bars are used, but instead a strong steel netting is manufactured in large sheets by special machinery. It is made by cutting a series of long slots at regular intervals in a plain steel plate, which is then forcibly stretched out sideways until the slots become diamond-shaped openings, and a trellis work of steel without any joints is the result (fig. 2).

EB1911 Concrete Fig. 4. Hennebique System.jpg
Fig. 4. Hennebique System.

The structures in which steel concrete is used may be analysed as consisting essentially of (1) walls, (2) columns, (3) piles, (4) beams, (5) slabs, (6) arches. The designs differ considerably according to which of these purposes the structure is to fulfil.

The effect of reinforcing walls with steel is that they can be made much thinner.

The steel reinforcement is generally applied in the form of vertical rods built in the wall at intervals, with lighter horizontal rods which cross the vertical ones, and thus form a network of steel which is buried in the concrete. These rods assist in taking the weight, and the whole network binds the concrete together and prevents it from cracking under a heavy load. The vertical rods should not be quite in the middle of the wall but near the inner and outer faces alternately. Care must be taken, however, that all the rods are covered by at least an