Date of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Ghadir Haikal

Second Advisor

Robert J. Connor

Committee Member 1

Pablo Zavattieri


The characterization of fatigue resistance is one of the main concerns in structural engineering, a concern that is particularly important in the evaluation of existing bridge members designed or erected before the development of fatigue design provisions. The ability of a structural member to develop alternate load paths after the failure of a component is known as member-level or internal redundancy. In fastened built-up members, these alternate load paths are affected by the combination of fastener pre-tension and friction between the structural member components in contact. In this study, a finite element methodology to model and analyze riveted and bolted built-up members was developed in ABAQUS and validated with experimental results. This methodology was used to created finite element models of three fastened plates subjected to tension, in which the middle plate had failed, in order to investigate the fundamental effects of combined fastener pre-tension and friction on their mechanical behavior. Detailed finite element models of riveted and bolted built-up flexural members were created and analyze to understand the effect of fastener pre-tension in member-level redundancy and resistance to fatigue and fracture. The obtained results showed that bolted members are able to re-distribute a larger portion of the load away from the failing component into the rest of the member than riveted members, and that this transfer of load also took place over a smaller length. Superior pre-tension of bolts, in comparison to rivets, results in larger frictional forces that develop at the contact interfaces between components and constitute additional alternate load paths that increase member-level redundancy which increase the fatigue and fracture resistance of the structural member during the failure of one of its components. Although fatigue and fracture potential may be mitigated by compressive stresses developing around the fastener hole due to fastener pre-tension, it was also observed, that at the surface of the fastener hole and at the contact interface with another plate, tensional stresses could develop; however, further computational and experimental work should be performed to verify this claim.