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Freyssinet hinges in slabs

Freyssinet hinges in slabs

Freyssinet hinges in slabs

I am hoping for some general help in understanding the behaviour of freyssinet hinges used in slabs rather than columns.

The problem I have regards an old design of motorway bridge.  It uses 1 foot thick freysinnet hinges to support a 3 foot thick reinforced concrete suspended slab deck from the cantilever abutments.  

I have found very little available to assess the capacity of the hinge, particularly degraded capacity.  The only technical advice I've found so far, BE 5/75, assumes that the freysinnet hinges are used in columns.  The high axial loads and low shear loads assumed are, of course, the opposite to that experienced in a deck.  

The standard method used here in the past has been to just calculate the shear, tensile and, in some assessments, the compressive capacities of the horizontal and inclined dowel bars across the hinge.  Incidently, sensitivity analysis for dowel bar cross-section for very similar hinges have ranged from 20% loss allowable to greater than 50%.

This simple approach was recently complicated by some highbrow types at a hinge bridge meeting referring to the anti-bursting reinforcement tending to support the dowel bars, to quote 'effectively the dowel bars are in a state of tri-axial compression'.  I haven't yet found the basis for this assertion, other than under large compressive load.  As I see it, the main axial loads on the joint are temperature and differential settlement related (together with braking loads) and are generally fairly minor.

I have x-rayed and acoustic emission tested some bridges to help assess the hinge condition.  Some bridges have some (10- 20%) dowel bar section loss and the matching acoustic emission results suggest quite noticeable amounts of concrete cracking under sub-maximal load.  Deflections and crackwidths remain minimal.  I suspect that the 'noisy' joints are working in a more complex manner than the assessment method assumes.

RE: Freyssinet hinges in slabs

The Freyssinet hinges are from my viewpoint a device never to be used anymore. I think they have been responsible of fatal casualties in the ruin of a hotel in Málaga in in the 70's.

Upon creep of concrete, the steel may really be yielded at work status. This is coherent with the cracks you see in the hinges. This makes the joint less than ideal to refrain any force orthogonal to the main compression stress.

If a find reference on computation will post.

RE: Freyssinet hinges in slabs

A two pages treatment on Freyssinet hinges I myself find in
(in spanish)

Hormigón Armado
Pedro Jiménez Montoya, Álvaro García Meseguer, Fernando Morán Cabré
7º Ed.
Ed. Gustavo Gili Barcelona 1975
p. 504

It is a classical RC spanish text and may well be in the over XV edition and still retain the Fr. hinges information.

If you can't get better thing, you could state your concrete questions and I would try to answer to the light of the text.

It is clear however that the problems you are asked to look at are compounded with and confirmatory of my opinion on lack of fitness for use of these devices, and almost any doubt I would see good their replacement for better understood support devices.

RE: Freyssinet hinges in slabs

The more I look at these things, the more I tend to agree that using freyssinet hinges was an unfortunate engineering fad.  Unfortunately I am not in a position to replace the large number of bridges using these hinges and so I am looking for a way of evaluating them.
Thanks for the reference, I will try to get a Spanish speaker here to lead me through the text before I bother you too much.
Regarding the visible joint cracking, the vast majority of them only show a single hairline (0-0.5mm) crack at the soffit.  No vertical displacement is visible.  A very few hinges exhibit single large cracks up to 3.0mm wide with up to 1.0mm drop.  These hinges have been propped as yielding has been assumed.
A now demolished bridge of this design was strain-gauged a couple of decades ago with the conclusion that temperature effects would lead to dowel bars yielding at concrete temperatures below -15 Centigrade.  It is extremely rare for such temperatures to be reached in this country.  
It is possible that dowel bar debonding (possibly due to corrosion) is increasing the length under maximum tension and thus the bar stays in the elastic zone.  I am reasonably confident that the majority of hinges are not operating near yield.  
On the other hand, it appears fairly common that the dowel bars can be misaligned up to 100mm, increasing the axial load on the dowels.
Acoustic emission testing is detecting concrete cracking that is not visible at the soffit.  I am hoping to find out where the cracking is when I break out the 'noisy' joints to confirm the radiography section loss.  The joints previously broken out by others have not had any unusual cracking noted.  The amount of cracking detected by acoustic emission seems quite large while nothing is visible externally.  It is roughly equivalent to 60mm2 of mortar cracking per day.
One guess I have involves progressive concrete cracking from the dowel bars bearing onto the edge of the hinge.  Another guess is that the cracking is from dowel bars debonding along their length, assisted by corrosion.  Any other ideas?

RE: Freyssinet hinges in slabs


Theory and Design of Bridges
p. 993


Structural Engineering Handbook 4th ed.
Gaylord, Gaylord, Stallmeyer

have something on Freyssinet, Mesnager and Considére RC hinges, but not much.

RE: Freyssinet hinges in slabs


"Bridge Bearings and Expansion Joints" by David J. Lee has some info on Freyssinet hinges.


RE: Freyssinet hinges in slabs

Thank you ishvaaag and Ingenuity,

I checked the references you suggested, they have proved useful.  I now have a fighting chance of actually understanding how these things work in practice.

It is interesting that everybody I've spoken to at work (including quite highbrow types) refers to these things as Freyssinet hinges.  They appear to be an unusual variation on Mesnager hinges.

Now I must put my head down to review the assessment calculations, prior to breakout.  Just pity me

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