Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Glen H. Besterfield, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Autar K. Kaw, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Thomas G. Eason III, Ph.D.


bascule bridge design, data acquisition, finite element analysis, heat transfer, shrink fitting, solid mechanics


The current assembly procedure to install a trunnion and hub into a bascule bridge girder involves cooling the trunnion in liquid nitrogen and shrink fitting it into the hub. The resulting trunnion-hub assembly is then allowed to warm to room temperature. Next, the trunnion-hub assembly is cooled in the liquid nitrogen and shrunk fit into the girder. The cooling of the trunnion does not cause any problems, however, when the trunnion-hub assembly is cooled in the liquid nitrogen, the hub experiences a large thermal shock. These thermal shocks induce large stresses into the hub, which has been known to cause it to crack.

This study investigates an innovative assembly procedure to install the trunnion-hub assembly into a bascule bridge girder. To avoid cooling the trunnion-hub assembly, the girder was heated instead. Laboratory testing and finite element analysis were used to determine if the girder could reasonably be heated to install the trunnion-hub assembly.

An experiment was conducted to analyze the heating process that will be used. A rectangular steel plate ( 60"x60x"0.75") was used to model the girder in the lab. Inductance-heating coils were used to heat the steel plate to 350°F. The heating process was recorded using a data acquisition system with thermocouples and strain gages.

ANSYS was the finite element analysis (FEA) program that was used to model the heating process of the plate. The FEA results from ANSYS were compared with the experimental results. This confirmed the parameters of the finite element analysis were correct. Those parameters were then used to model a full-scale girder. The feasibility of heating the girder was determined from the finite element analysis results.

It was determined that heating the girder with 2250 BTU over min for 90 minutes, was sufficient energy for the assembly procedure to work.

The girder was heated to a maximum temperature of 350°F and a 0.015" clearance was created for the assembly of the trunnion-hub.

The finite element analysis of the girder showed that the placement of the heating coils on the girder was critical. Therefore this innovative assembly procedure can easily be accomplished, however, each girder must first be analyzed to determine the optimal heating configuration.