Failure of steel gusset plates

  • Stephen Robinson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis examines the parameters associated with the failure of triangular steel gusset plates. Eighty two results are presented investigating the position of the applied load, the gusset plate height to length ratio, size, thickness, internal angle and the removal of the inside corner. The thickness of the loaded plate and its influence on the gusset plates failure is also investigated. Twenty two similar gusset plates were tested to investigate the welds connecting the gusset plate to the adjacent loaded and support edges. The experimental results are compared with existing methods, none of which cover all the variables tested. Some methods do not consider buckling and most of those that do are inadequate. Most of the methods do not accurately take account of the load position. An alternative method based on experimental observations is presented for design purposes. The method covers any combination of the variables tested. To test assumptions made in the theoretical work forty seven strut tests took place to investigate buckling characteristics and fifteen special gusset plates were also tested. The gusset plates were found to fail in an elastic-plastic buckling manner. A gusset plate has a specific moment of resistance capacity about it’s inside corner and the ultimate load that can be applied is dependent upon the position of the load relative to the supported edge. There is an optimum height to length ratio for strength and any increase in the internal angle from 90 degrees produces little change in moment capacity. The removal of small portions of the inside corner of a gusset plate has little effect upon its moment capacity. The loaded plate does not provide any significant moment of resistance to the applied load at failure. The main functions of the loaded and supported edge welds is to prevent the gusset plate from slipping from between the plates.
Date of Award1983
Original languageEnglish


  • gusset plate
  • buckling
  • stell
  • welded
  • bracket

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