Category Archives: Dictionary

Brick coursing

Concrete wall
Image via Wikipedia

In every brick built project, one of the first jobs that need to be done is to sort out the floor levels in relation to the vertical brick coursing, setting out the foundation levels coursing the bricks up the building, setting windows and doors, and inevitably the floor levels. You can calculate this just by using a 75mm module, ie 65mm brick and 10mm mortar joint, but is far easier to use brick tables from ibstock or one of the other brick manufacturers, I have a printed set in my Technicians folder, that bible of facts and notes all of seem to have. This particular one has both Horizontal and Vertical dims for UK bricks, I one had to do a job in Holland and their bricks are slightly smaller, so if your working in a different country look local for the correct tables, or make your own.

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Steel Table sizes

A steel pylon suspending overhead powerlines.
Image via Wikipedia

We all have to draw steel in our layouts, and sections, but the size shown on the engineers drawing is not the actual size, this has to be determined from steel tables, In my youth we always had a book of steel table to browse though, but now its all on line and I have been using the Roymec site for ages, and it always impresses me.there are loads of tables available, but of interest to us are the steel tables, I think most are here.

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Building Regulation – UK and the Republic of Ireland

Magazine stack
Image by bravenewtraveler via Flickr

I am amazed that many UK Technologists do not know were to find a free copy of the Building Regulation UK & Northern Ireland, there is no need to purchase a copy, although if your feeling flush you can, but whats the point, they are constantly chabnging and a PDF copy is the best way to read and use these often complex documents.  So the easiest place to see them is on the Government site Communities and Local Government here all the current issues are available for download in PDF format. Have you tried using the search function in the curent pdf reader, well it makes looking for that preciece paragraph so easy to find rather than scrolling down endless pages.

I also make a short list up of all the sections by printing out the first page,  I also do work in Scotland so for those of you who venture notth the Scotish regs are locatecon the Scottish Building Standards web site and for the Republic of Ireland it on the Environment Heritage and Local Government site

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Corbelling Brickwork

Brick Corbeling
Image by Scays via Flickr

Corbeling of brick masonry may be done to achieve the desired aesthetics, or to provide structural support. The photo to the right show one of many applications it can be put to, in this case as an artistic closer to a facia board gutter detail to a domestic house, although I have used in in many different ways to extend brickwork or support say a chimney breast. . There are empirical requirements provided by most codes and standards for unreinforced corbels If these requirements are to be exceeded, then the element will require a rational design as a reinforced element.

A detailed overview of Corbelling can be seen on The Brick Industry Association web site

The empirical approach requires that the total horizontal projection not exceed one-half the thickness of a solid wall, or one-half the thickness of the veneer of a veneered wall. It is also required that the projection of a single course not exceed one-half of the unit height or one-third of the unit bed depth, whichever is less. From these limitations, the minimum slope of the corbeling can be established (angle measured from the horizontal to the face of the corbeled surface is 63 deg 26 min The required slope could be increased by the requirements that the unit projection not exceed one-third of the bed depth if they are more restrictive. It should be pointed out that the eccentricity induced into the wall by the corbeling must be considered in the wall design. If these limitations are exceeded, the wall should be reinforced to resist the stresses developed by the corbeling.

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putlog scaffold
Image by Scays via Flickr

Scaffolding is a temporary frame used to support people and material in the construction or repair of buildings and other large structures. It is usually a modular system of metal pipes (termed tubes in Britain), although it can be made out of other materials. Bamboo is still used in some Asian countries like People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong.

See the link to wiki above, just about all you need to know

The picture above is one I took to show a putlog system, used in this case due to the roof structure and shape, a conventional system might not be suitable.

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Kissing Gate

Kissing gate
Image by Scays via Flickr

The normal construction of a Kissing gate is a half-round, rectangular, trapezial or V-shaped enclosure with a hinged gate trapped between its arms. When the gate is parked at either side of the enclosure, there is no gap to pass through. However, the gate can be pushed to give access to the small enclosure, then moved in the opposite direction to close the first opening and allow exit from the enclosure to the other side. The enclosure may be made large enough to accommodate pushchairs and wheelchairs. The gate itself is usually self-closing, to the side away from the land where animals are kept. The self-closing may be by hinge geometry but sometimes by a spring or weight. Made in this case from Metal, but often seen as a timber post and fence construction

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Speed, Velocity and Acceleration

Image by Scays via Flickr

There is no getting away from it, if you are going to study Architecture, Structures will come into its and the subject of Speed, Velocity and Acceleration will play a part of your studies, but for those of us who may well have pulled this into your brain at some point in the distant past, perhaps its time to review the basic principles and start to revise a little.

So :

Average Speed
Unless he is travelling on a motorway , a motorist in a car can not maintain a constant speed for any length of time, traveling via ordinary roads, traffic conditions fequently cause him to change speed or stop. When deciding the time to allow for a particular journey, the motorist must therefore have some idea of the average speed at which he will be able to travel. Speed is defines as the rate of chnge of distance moved with time, thus if a journey from Birmingham to London of a 110 miles takes four hours:

Average speed = Distance/time = 27.5mph

Actual Speed
Normally a driver notes hi actual speed at any given moment by glancing at the speedometer, but unfortunately this is not to accurate,. In order to obtain an accurate value for the speed of a vehicle at any given instant it would be necessary to measure the distance moved in a very short interval of time. This is best done by a road side observer using special apparatus to time the car over a measured distance. as long as the time interval is short, there is less likelihood that the speed will vary over te measured distance. Otherwise the value obtained will be an average speed.

Velocity is defined as the rate of change of distance moved with time in a specified direction, so if a car were travelling at a steady speed of 20mph along a perfectly straight road it would be correct to say that it had a velocity of 20mph, 30 deg east of north, or what ever direction the road is, on the other hsnd if the car were travelling round a bend with constant speed its direction of motion would be continuously changing so its velocity would also be changing, although the speed remains constant.

When the velocity of a body is changing the body is said to be accelerating. Acceleration is regarded as positive if the velocity is increasing and negative if the velocity is decreasing, so if a car is uniformly retarded and brought to rest from a speed of 60 mph in 8 sec, its some times best to revert to feet so 60mph is 88ft/sec therefore:

initisl velocity = 88ft/sec

final velocity 0 ft/sec

change in velocity = final velocity – initial velocity

= (0-88)ft/sec

= -88 ft/sec


Acceleration = Change in Velocity/time = -88/8 = -11ft/sec/sec

As stated the minus sign simply means the car is decelerating

For the none UK people reading this, you might be surprised at the imperial units, we are after all a metric nation, but we are not, my car and in fact all UK cars still uses mph , and all road signs are in Miles, although we buy petrol of diesel in Litres, go figure. But the principles of the information is correct, just change the units from Ft to Meters or Millimeters.

As for CPD, if you follow up on this and you should then I think an hours CPD is a fair claim of quality CPD under structures.

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Expansion of solids

Dogspike holding rail to wooden sleeper, steel...
Image via Wikipedia

With few exceptions, substances expand when heated and contract when cooled, and very large forces may be set up if there are obstruction to the free movement of the expanding or contracting body. For example if a concrete road is is laid down in one continuous piece, cracks would appear owing to the expansion and contraction brought on by the Sumner and winter temperatures. To avoid this, surfaces are laid in small sections, each one being separated from the next by a small gap which is filled in with a compound of pitch, although these days we use specialist expansion compounds. On a hot summer day this material will often be seen to have squeezed out of the joints on account of the expansion. In the older methods of laying railway tracks gaps have to be left between successive lengths of rail to allow for expansion. Even when such gaps have been left the rails may sometimes ‘creep‘ and close up the gaps. If this happens a rise in temperature may lead to buckling of the track. Water when frozen is probably the only exception to the rule, it tends to expand.

As always Wiki has a useful explanation :

When the temperature of a substance changes, the energy that is stored in the intermolecular bonds between atoms changes. When the stored energy increases, so does the length of the molecular bonds. As a result, solids typically expand in response to heating and contract on cooling; this dimensional response to temperature change is expressed by its coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE).

As a technologist is is essential to understand this, brickwork, concrete and many specialist surfaces need to move due to temp rise and fall, , the CTE of many materials can be found on the net, via, this site, has a simple yet useful list. Panel design is a god example of where the CTE should be looked at an imbalance design will always lead to failure, due to different materials of differing CTE being used for the back and front.

Think about where cracks might appear, detail for it by making an expansion joint, or covering it with an Architrave, or in the case of brickwork a RWP

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The Pierre Pflimlin bridge being constructed o...
Image via Wikipedia

Windposts are used to provide stability to masonry panels which may be difficult to justify structurally. The windpost spans vertically between floors and consists of a base connection, post and top connection. Base and top connections can be designed to suit individual requirements, fixing to the top of a concrete foundation, intermediate slab, or roof structure.  The connections are designed to offer maximum adjustment incorporating slots and serrated pads/washers where appropriate. Windposts are usually designed as ‘simply supported beams’ however they can be designed as ‘propped cantilevers’ which will significantly reduce the deflection of the post but does require a much larger base connection with extra fixing bolts.
Most manufacturers offer a range of posts for standard panels and parapets. Designed as ‘cantilevers’, posts for spandrel panels and parapets are similar to ‘propped cantilever posts’ in the much larger base connections are required compared to posts of ‘simply supported’ design.

Halfen have some particularly good examples of post and their pdf is good, showing many different design. Nearly all have a design service, often free. They can be used on any brick wall from small extensions to major parapet details

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Image by Scays via Flickr

A small amount of mortar put into the joint between the top of a slate and the next lay of slate to prevent wind driven rain or snow entering a  pitched roof space, no longer done due to the use of sarking membranes, but will be seen on older roof, see McKays page 77 figuer 38

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