Chapter 8: Applications of graphic statics

Anwendungen der graphischen Statik / nach Professor Dr. Carl Culmann bearbeitet von Wilhelm Ritter. Teil 1: Die im Inneren eines Balkens wirkenden Kräfte. (Zürich : Raustein, 1888). Teil 2: Das Fachwerk. (Zürich : Meyer & Zeller, 1890).

published May 2016

The favorite book of Professor Thomas Boothby

Professor Thomas Boothby spent two weeks as Scholar in Residence doing research at the Iron Library. His research focuses at present on the use of empirical methods used to build iron bridges in the late 19th century and on the question why the design of the truss forms developed differently in Europe and the United States. Thomas is fascinated by the comprehensive and multi-faceted approach in his favorite book.

The reader

Thomas Boothby

... is a Professor of Architectural Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University. Having published a book on the history of design methods for iron and other bridges in the US, he is currently reviewing the history and use of empirical design methods in buildings and bridges. He had the pleasure and privilege of reviewing the collection of works on bridges at the Iron Library in snowy Schlatt in late April 2016.

I would play a role in this book:
Mark Twain: Leben auf dem Mississippi

This book needs a sequel:
Paul Feyerabend: Wider den Methodenzwang

The book on my nightstand:
Margaret Drabbel: Der Sommervogel

Editor's note:

Thomas Boothby cultivates various passions, among them also the art of painting with water colours. Here his farewell present to the Iron Library - a true masterpiece

For comparison: The paradise estate through a photo lense

The book

Anwendungen der graphischen Statik / nach Professor Dr. Carl Culmann bearbeitet von Wilhelm Ritter.

Teil 1: Die im Inneren eines Balkens wirkenden Kräfte. (Zürich : Raustein, 1888).
Teil 2: Das Fachwerk. (Zürich : Meyer & Zeller, 1890).

This book was written by a Professor at the ETH in Zürich, following the lead of his preceptor, Carl Culmann. Culmann’s Die Graphische Statik, which appeared in 1875, is a work of classical purity, presenting methods for solutions of various problems in the mechanics of bridge and building structures exclusively in graphic form. While Culmann, in Die Graphische Statik, eschews analytical and empirical methods, the book is primarily of academic interest.

Ritter’s following work uses Culmann’s methods to outline practical solutions to ordinary engineering problems: elasticity, trusses, girders, continuous girders, and arches.  This volume includes a section on graphic methods of elasticity, a large section on trusses, and a brief section on the elastic arch.
I have been most interested in the section on trusses, and have enjoyed comparing the Ritter/Culmann analysis of trusses to other methods of analyzing trusses. This book is distinguished by its eclectic approach to developing solutions: combinations of graphical and analytical methods are used, and in fact are found necessary.

In dealing with statically indeterminate trusses, Ritter is content in most cases to consider load-sharing intuitively, by assigning half the force to redundant systems or members. He covers large classes of commonly used truss types in detail — Pratt, double intersection Pratt, double Warren, Pauli, Schwedler — without belaboring any single topic. The last two types are particularly amenable to graphical analysis.

He also develops particularly concise solutions using projective geometry for specific shapes of truss panels. Again, the strength of this work is the willingness to bring any type of solution, including approximate solutions, to bear on a wide variety of problems in the analysis of bridge and roof trusses.
The Eisenbibliothek’s copy of this book was previously owned by the library of Gustav Griot, Ingenieur, Zürich. Many of the sections are annotated, a number of them in shorthand (e.g. page 145 and 153 of Teil 2).