A re-examination of the current design rule for staggered bolted connections

Xue Mei Lin, Michael C.H. Yam, Ke Ke, Binhui Jiang, Qun He

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper summarised and re-examined the theoretical basis of the commonly used design rule developed by Cochrane in the 1920s to consider staggered bolt holes in tension members, i.e., the s2/4g rule. The rule was derived assuming that the term two times the bolt hole diameter (2d0) in Cochrane’s original equation could be neglected, and assuming a value of 0.5 for the fractional deduction of a staggered hole in assessing the net section area. Although the s2/4g rule generally provides good predictions of the staggered net section area, the above-mentioned assumptions used in developing the rule are doubtful, in particular for a connection with a small gauge-to-bolt-hole diameter (g/d0) ratio. It was found that the omission of 2d0 in Cochrane’s original equation appreciably overestimates the net section area of a staggered bolted connection with a small g/d0 ratio. However, the assumed value of 0.5 for the fractional deduction of a staggered hole underestimates the staggered net section area for small g/d0 ratios. To improve the applicability of the above two assumptions, a modified design equation, which covers a full range of g/d0 ratio, was proposed to accurately predict the staggered net section area and was validated by the existing test data from the literature and numerical data derived from this study. Finally, a reliability analysis of the test and numerical data was conducted, and the results showed that the reliability of the modified design equation for evaluating the net section resistance of staggered bolted connections can be achieved with the partial factor of 1.25.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-416
Number of pages14
JournalSteel and Composite Structures
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2023


  • bolted connections
  • finite element analysis
  • net section area
  • parametric study
  • staggered hole arrangement
  • theoretical analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Metals and Alloys


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