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Finite Elements in Analysis and Design 38 (2002) 1115 1130

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Stress analysis of a truck chassis with riveted joints


Ci(cek Karao*glu , N. Sefa Kuralay
Department of Mechanical Engineering, DEU Faculty of Engineering, 35100 Bornova, Izmir, Turkey
Received 20 February 2001; accepted 8 October 2001

Abstract
In this study, stress analysis of a truck chassis with riveted joints was performed by using FEM. The
commercial nite element package ANSYS version 5.3 was used for the solution of the problem. Determination
of the stresses of a truck chassis before manufacturing is important due to the design improvement. In order
to achieve a reduction in the magnitude of stress near the riveted joint of the chassis frame, side member
thickness, connection plate thickness and connection plate length were varied. Numerical results showed that
stresses on the side member can be reduced by increasing the side member thickness locally. If the thickness
change is not possible, increasing the connection plate length may be a good alternative. ? 2002 Elsevier
Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Truck chassis; Stress analysis; Riveted joints; FEM

1. Introduction
Every vehicle has a body, which has to carry both the loads and its own weight. Vehicle body
consists of two parts; chassis and bodywork or superstructure.
The conventional chassis frame, which is made of pressed steel members, can be considered
structurally as grillages. The chassis frame includes cross-members located at critical stress points
along the side members. To provide a rigid, box-like structure, the cross-members secure the two
main rails in a parallel position. The cross-members are usually attached to the side members by
connection plates. The joint is riveted or bolted in trucks and is welded in trailers. When rivets are
used, the holes in the chassis frame are drilled approximately 1=16 in larger than the diameter of
the rivet [1]. The rivets are then heated to an incandescent red and driven home by hydraulic or
air pressure. The hot rivets conform to the shape of the hole and tighten upon cooling. An advantage

Corresponding author. Fax: +90-232-388-7868.


E-mail address: cicek.karaoglu@deu.edu.tr (C. Karao*glu).

0168-874X/02/$ - see front matter ? 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
PII: S 0 1 6 8 - 8 7 4 X ( 0 2 ) 0 0 0 5 4 - 9

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Fig. 1. Main loads on a chassis frame [8].

of this connection is that it increases the chassis Gexibility. Therefore, high stresses are prevented in
critical area. The side- and cross-members are usually open-sectioned, because they are cheap and
easily attached with rivets.
An experimental and numerical analysis of riveted joints was studied by Fung and Smart [2].
A three-dimensional nite element model of a riveted lap joint was formulated with shell elements
and elastic supports to allow for simulation of various levels of load transfer [3].
Xiong used analytical and numerical methods, for the stress analysis of riveted lap joints in
aircraft structures [4]. In the numerical method, nite element analyses were conducted using some
commercial packages.
Nut and bolt construction are also used in chassis frame as this allows easy removal of components
for repair or replacement purposes.
As far as joint modelling techniques are concerned, there are many studies to determine the joint
stiIness in bolted connections through detailed nite element modelling or experiments [5,6].
1.1. Loads on chassis frame
All vehicles are subjected to both static and dynamic loads. Dynamic loads result from inertia
forces arising from driving on uneven surfaces. Static loads are as follows [7]: Static load of stationary vehicle, braking, acceleration, cornering, torsion, maximum load on front axle which are balanced
by inertia forces, maximum load on rear axle, drawbar loads from the trailer coupling system.
Loads acting in the frame cause bending or twisting of the side and the cross-members. A simpli ed plot of the most important kinds of load is given in Fig. 1. Symmetric loads acting in the

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Fig. 2. Truck chassis model.

vertical direction predominantly cause bending in the side members. Vertical loads additionally arise
from lateral forces acting parallel to the frames plane, e.g. during cornering [8]. Loads acting in
the plane of frame cause bending of the side members and of the cross-members.

2. Denition of the problem


The commercial nite element package, ANSYS version 5.3 is used for the solution of the problem
[9]. The general arrangement of the chassis frame model is shown in Fig. 2. The chassis frame is
modelled with two-dimensional isoparametric elements [10].
Riveted joints on chassis frame are shown in Fig. 3. The Gange of the side member and a
cross-member are joined by a connection plate. Connection plate is riveted on a side member. Side
member and a connection plate are overlapped by the boundary of the rivet surroundings to ensure
equal displacements.
In this study, to examine the eIect of the side member thickness change, the side member thickness
is varied from 8 to 12 mm, and the thickness of the joint area is also varied from 8 to 12 mm by
local plates.
To examine the eIect of the connection plate design, the connection plate thickness is varied from
7 to 10 mm, and the length of the connection plate (L) is varied from 390 to 430 mm.

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Fig. 3. Riveted joints of a chassis.

Fig. 4. Longitudinal section at the side member.

3. Results and discussion


Fig. 5 shows the principal (S1S3) and Von-Mises (SEQV) stress values along the side members
for the thickness 8 and 12 mm at the longitudinal section denoted by ( ) in Fig. 4.

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Fig. 5. Stress distribution along the side member for thickness values of 8 and 12 mm.

When the thickness of the side member is increased the stresses decrease due to the increasing
moment of inertia. However, it is important to realise that the overall weight of the chassis frame
increases with increasing thickness.
Fig. 6 shows the Von-Mises stress distribution of a side member in the joint areas of A1A3 (see
Fig. 3). As seen from the gure the most stressed joint is A3.

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Fig. 6. Von-Mises stress distribution on side member of the joint areas (side member thickness 8 mm, connection plate
thickness 7 mm, connection plate length 390 mm).

The Von-Mises stress distribution in connection plates for a side member thickness of 8 mm is
shown in Fig. 7.
When the thickness of the side member is increased from 8 to 12 mm the Von-Mises stress in
the joint area decreases as shown in Fig. 8. In this case, the overall weight of the chassis frame
increases considerably.

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Fig. 7. Von-Mises stress distribution in connection plates (side member thickness 8 mm, connection plate thickness 7 mm,
connection plate length 390 mm).

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Fig. 8. Von-Mises stress distribution on side member of the joint areas (side member thickness 12 mm, connection plate
thickness 7 mm, connection plate length 390 mm).

Fig. 9 shows the Von-Mises stress distribution in connection plates for a side member thickness
of 12 mm. By comparing the values shown in Figs. 7 and 9, it is easily seen that the stress in the
connection plates increases by increasing the side member thickness from 8 to 12 mm. To avoid
weight increase, the side member thickness is increased only in the joint area by using local plates as

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Fig. 9. Von-Mises stress distribution in connection plates (side member thickness 12 mm, connection plate thickness 7 mm,
connection plate length 390 mm).

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Fig. 10. Von-Mises stress distribution on side member of the joint areas (side member local thickness 12 mm, connection
plate thickness 7 mm, connection plate length 390 mm).

given in Figs. 10 and 11, respectively. In this case, the overall weight of the chassis frame increases
by 4%. In order to determine the eIect of joint construction, some changes have been performed on
joints A1A3.
When the thickness of the connection plate is increased from 7 to 10 mm, the stress increases in
the side member (Fig. 12).

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Fig. 11. Von-Mises stress distribution in connection plates (side member local thickness 12 mm, connection plate thickness
7 mm, connection plate length 390 mm).

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Fig. 12. Von-Mises stress distribution on side member of the joint areas (side member thickness 8 mm, connection plate
thickness 10 mm, connection plate length 390 mm).

As shown in Fig. 13, when the thickness of the connection plate is increased from 7 to 10 mm,
the stress of the connection plate decreases. This causes 3% increase in the overall weight of the
chassis frame.
The dimension L length between the end rivets of the connection plate (see Fig. 3) mountings
is increased. Fig. 14 shows that, when the length of the connection plate is increased, Von-Mises
stress decreases in the side member.

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Fig. 13. Von-Mises stress distribution in connection plates (side member thickness 8 mm, connection plate thickness
10 mm, connection plate length 390 mm).

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Fig. 14. Von-Mises stress distribution on side member of the joint areas (side member thickness 8 mm, connection plate
thickness 7 mm, connection plate length 430 mm).

When the length of the connection plate is increased the Von-Mises stress decreases in the connection plate (Fig. 15). In this case, the overall weight of the chassis frame increases
by 0.76%.

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Fig. 15. Von-Mises stress distribution in connection plates (side member thickness 8 mm, connection plate thickness 7 mm,
connection plate length 430 mm).

4. Conclusions
In this study, the nite element analysis of a truck chassis was carried out. The analysis showed
that increasing the side member thickness can reduce stresses on the joint areas, but it is important

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to realise that the overall weight of the chassis frame increases. Using local plates only in the joint
area can also increase side member thickness. Therefore, excessive weight of the chassis frame is
prevented. In this case, changing the side member thickness using the local plates seems to be
suitable. In both cases, stresses in the connection plate rise slightly. Increasing the connection plate
thickness can reduce stresses in the connection plate. When the length of the connection plate is
increased, stresses in both side member and connection plate decrease.
If the change of the side member thickness using local plates is not possible, choosing an optimum
connection plate length (L) seems to be practical solutions for decreasing the stress values.
References
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Proceedings of 38th AIAA=ASME=ASCE Structures, Structural Dynamics and Material Conference, Vol. 4, 1997,
pp. 2761277.
[4] Y. Xiong, Analytical and nite element modelling of riveted lap joints in aircraft structure, AIAA J. 37 (1999) 93.
[5] M. Tanaka, H. Miyazava, E. Asaba, K. Hongo, Application of the nite element method to bolt-nut joints-fundamental
studies on analysis of bolt-nut joints using the nite element method, Bull. JSME 24 (1981) 10641071.
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