Tie rod

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A tie rod or tie bar (also known as a hanger rod if vertical) is a slender structural unit used as a tie and (in most applications) capable of carrying tensile loads only.


Tie rods and anchor plates in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral Coventry Cathedral ruins tie rods.JPG
Tie rods and anchor plates in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral

Subtypes and examples of applications

Physics and engineering principles

In general, because the ratio of the typical tie rod's length to its cross section is usually very large, it would buckle under the action of compressive forces. The working strength of a tie rod is the product of the allowable working stress and the rod's minimum cross-sectional area.

If threads are cut into a cylindrical rod, that minimum area occurs at the root of the thread. Often rods are upset (made thicker at the ends) so that the tie rod does not become weaker when threads are cut into it.

Tie rods may be connected at the ends in various ways, but it is desirable that the strength of the connection should be at least equal to the strength of the rod. The ends may be threaded and passed through drilled holes or shackles and retained by nuts screwed on the ends. If the ends are threaded right- and left-hand the length between points of loading may be altered. This furnishes a second method for pre-tensioning the rod at will by turning it in the nuts so that the length will be changed. A turnbuckle will accomplish the same purpose. The ends may also be swaged to receive a fitting which is connected to the supports. Another way of making end connections is to forge an eye or hook on the rod.

An infamous structural failure involving tie rods is the Hyatt Regency walkway collapse in Kansas City, Missouri, on July 17, 1981. The hotel had a large atrium with three walkways crossing it suspended from tie rods. Construction errors led to several of the walkways collapsing, killing 114 people and injuring over 200.


Osgood and Graustein used the rectangular hyperbola, its conjugate hyperbola, and conjugate diameters to rationalize tie rods at 15 degree radial spacing, to a square of girders, from its center. The tie-rods to the corners (45°) correspond to the asymptotes, while the pair at 15° and 75° are conjugate, as are the pair at 30° and 60°. According to this model in linear elasticity, the application of a load compressing the square results in a deformation where the tie rods maintain their conjugate relations. [1]

See also

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Reinforced concrete Concrete with rebar

Reinforced concrete (RC), also called reinforced cement concrete (RCC), is a composite material in which concrete's relatively low tensile strength and ductility are compensated for by the inclusion of reinforcement having higher tensile strength or ductility. The reinforcement is usually, though not necessarily, steel bars (rebar) and is usually embedded passively in the concrete before the concrete sets.

Compressive strength

Compressive strength or compression strength is the capacity of a material or structure to withstand loads tending to reduce size, as opposed to which withstands loads tending to elongate. In other words, compressive strength resists being pushed together, whereas tensile strength resists tension. In the study of strength of materials, tensile strength, compressive strength, and shear strength can be analyzed independently.

Truss Rigid structure that consists of two-force members only

A truss is an assembly of beams or other elements that creates a rigid structure.

Beam (structure)

A beam is a structural element that primarily resists loads applied laterally to the beam's axis. Its mode of deflection is primarily by bending. The loads applied to the beam result in reaction forces at the beam's support points. The total effect of all the forces acting on the beam is to produce shear forces and bending moments within the beams, that in turn induce internal stresses, strains and deflections of the beam. Beams are characterized by their manner of support, profile, equilibrium conditions, length, and their material.

Buckling Sudden change in shape of a structural component under load

In structural engineering, buckling is the sudden change in shape (deformation) of a structural component under load, such as the bowing of a column under compression or the wrinkling of a plate under shear. If a structure is subjected to a gradually increasing load, when the load reaches a critical level, a member may suddenly change shape and the structure and component is said to have buckled. Euler's critical load and Johnson's parabolic formula are used to determine the buckling stress in slender columns.

Prestressed concrete Form of concrete used in construction

Prestressed concrete is a form of concrete used in construction. It is substantially "prestressed" (compressed) during production, in a manner that strengthens it against tensile forces which will exist when in service.

Bolted joint

Bolted joints are one of the most common elements in construction and machine design. They consist of fasteners that capture and join other parts, and are secured with the mating of screw threads.

A tie, strap, tie rod, eyebar, guy-wire, suspension cables, or wire ropes, are examples of linear structural components designed to resist tension. It is the opposite of a strut or column, which is designed to resist compression. Ties may be made of any tension resisting material.


A girder is a support beam used in construction. It is the main horizontal support of a structure which supports smaller beams. Girders often have an I-beam cross section composed of two load-bearing flanges separated by a stabilizing web, but may also have a box shape, Z shape, or other forms. A girder is commonly used to build bridges.

The term structural system or structural frame in structural engineering refers to the load-resisting sub-system of a building or object. The structural system transfers loads through interconnected elements or members.

Tension (physics) Pulling force transmitted axially – Opposite of compression

In physics, tension is described as the pulling force transmitted axially by the means of a string, a cable, chain, or similar one-dimensional continuous object, or by each end of a rod, truss member, or similar three-dimensional object; tension might also be described as the action-reaction pair of forces acting at each end of said elements. Tension could be the opposite of compression.

Girder bridge

A girder bridge is a bridge that uses girders as the means of supporting its deck. The two most common types of modern steel girder bridges are plate and box.

Anchor bolt Connection elements that transfer loads and shear forces to concrete.

Anchor bolts are used to connect structural and non-structural elements to concrete. The connection can be made by a variety of different components: anchor bolts, steel plates, or stiffeners. Anchor bolts transfer different types of load: tension forces and shear forces.

Lattice girder A truss girder where the load is carried by a web of latticed metal

A lattice girder is a truss girder where the load is carried by a web of latticed metal.

Howe truss

A Howe truss is a truss bridge consisting of chords, verticals, and diagonals whose vertical members are in tension and whose diagonal members are in compression. The Howe truss was invented by William Howe in 1840, and was widely used as a bridge in the mid to late 1800s.

Structural elements are used in structural analysis to split a complex structure into simple elements. Within a structure, an element cannot be broken down (decomposed) into parts of different kinds.

Warren truss

A Warren truss or equilateral truss is a type of engineering truss employing a weight-saving design based upon equilateral triangles.

Structural engineering theory

Structural engineering depends upon a detailed knowledge of loads, physics and materials to understand and predict how structures support and resist self-weight and imposed loads. To apply the knowledge successfully structural engineers will need a detailed knowledge of mathematics and of relevant empirical and theoretical design codes. They will also need to know about the corrosion resistance of the materials and structures, especially when those structures are exposed to the external environment.

In geometry, two diameters of a conic section are said to be conjugate if each chord parallel to one diameter is bisected by the other diameter. For example, two diameters of a circle are conjugate if and only if they are perpendicular.

This page is a glossary of Prestressed concrete terms.


  1. William F. Osgood & William C. Graustein (1922) Plane and Solid Analytic Geometry, page 307, link from University of Michigan Historical Math Collection