One-year stress relaxation of timber joints assembled with pretensioned bolts

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In our previous study, great increases of hysteretic damping and initial slip resistance of timber joints were attained by applying axial pretension to the steel fasteners. To evaluate the effectiveness of this method, 1-year stress-relaxation measurement was carried out. Nine prestressed joints were prepared and three of them were restressed after 3 and then 6 months after the initial prestressing. All joints were exposed to indoor conditions, and relaxation of the pretension was regularly measured from time-dependent decreases of axial strain of the bolts. After measurement, the joints were subjected to cyclic and monotonic loading tests until failure. The average ratio of residual stress to the initial prestress after 1 year was about 0.23 and 0.66, respectively, for joints without restressing and those with restressing. A simulated stress-relaxation curve developed from the four-element relaxation model predicted 3% of the initial stress after 5 years. Without a regular restressing program, the initial prestressing effect therefore must be considered negligible. However, about 20% of the pre-stress level can be reasonably assumed if restressing is carried out annually. This small residual stress was found to introduce suffi cient frictional damping to signifi cantly increase the equivalent viscous damping ratio of the joints.

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