Friday, June 20, 2008


Not going to talk much about politics or the economy. Depressing stuff. So how about a little ghost story…


I have been working in this industry for a long time. I have heard a lot of stories about strange happenings related to this industry. Some believe that this is so because spirits stay in isolated places like trees, abandoned houses etc and when these types of places are cleared for development, there’s when we encounter those from the other side. Whether this theory is true or not, I do not know, but I admit that I personally have experienced some things that is hard to explain.

Anyway, a client dropped by last night. After the usual moaning about the state of the construction industry, he related to me, the strange encounters he had in the site that he is working in.

He is currently working, renovating an old and large colonial bungalow near the border of Selangor and Negeri Sembilan. That place must have been abandoned for a long time as the garden was overgrown with weed the height of a man. Most of the paint on the structure has peeled off and what remained has turned mildew yellow. The wooden framing for doors and windows have long gone missing except for small decayed portions of the frame.

The present owners wanted to spruce up the place so that they can attempt to sell it. He managed to secured this project which was basically to fix that place up.

He stationed 3 of his Indonesians workers there including an old portable cabin placed within the compound. The cabin was intended for the workers to stay in and also to be used as a mini office.

However, two days after that, he received the desperate call from his workers’ that they do not want to work anymore. Fuming, he rushed down there from his Cheras office/house. His workers refused to say anything except that they do not want to stay there. As a compromise, he booked a room in a budget hotel at the nearest small town, a couple of km away. They were willing to work there during day time provided they leave by 6pm.

A few days after that, after dinner one night, he realized he left some drawings at the cabin which he needed for a meeting. He drove down there, and got there just before midnight. As he was exhausted he decided to spend the night there at the cabin.

He woke up in the middle of the night as he thought he heard some sound. However, after listening for a while and not hearing anything he decided to go back to sleep. Just as he was about to doze off, he again heard something, this time he barely but was sure he heard children crying. Puzzled he went out to check but the crying stopped and everything seemed normal. He finally managed to force himself to fall asleep.

Early the next morning, he met up with his workers to instruct them what to do that day. Just before leaving, he decided to climb up the scaffolding to the platform on the second floor to inspect on the work done. After he was on the platform, he noticed a few sets of footprint on the platform. Nothing really special about it except for 2 things. It was made by someone who was bare footed and it was about half the size of an adult foot print!

He quickly erased those foot prints thinking there must be some explanation. No point scaring his already jittery workers and jobs are so hard to come by come by.

On his way out, he stopped by a small roadside stall, at the “main” road. The stall was run by an old Malay lady in her sixties or seventies. As she brought over his drink she asked whether he is working at that old place. He briefly told her that he is renovating that place. The old lady nodded and said, “Jaga. Tempat kotor” (Be careful. Place is dirty). Further attempts to obtain further information was met with a smile and the shake of the head. Finally, when finally paying his bill he attempted one last question asking what the place was used for originally. With a sigh she sat down and told him that a long time ago, when she was just a little girl, that building was used as an orphanage. One night it caught fire…and most of the children were killed.

Coincidence or what? I don’t really know.

Steel Connection Design

I have written a little previously on bolt shear. I was going to was planning to write about plate bearing. However, on second thoughts, I think most of us had a tough and worrying week. So I won’t bore anyone with the technical stuff. I will continue with this the next time.

So have a good weekend and happy Engineering.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


As millions of Malaysian struggle to eke out a living, the political drama continues. I have read some of the comments given by SAPP for their decision include, flip-flop positions, fire fighting due to poorly conceived plans, economic incompetence etc.

Let’ say even if all these are true, wouldn’t any action against the ruling party now create more instability to the economy. As it is now, people are already lost and confused no thanks to the gigantic increase in fuel prices and the resulting increases in prices in almost everything. In the end, it’s the lower and middle class people (the majority of the citizens) who will suffer most.

Arguably, the most common answer an MP (all parties) gives when asked why he/she is in politics, and chances are they will reply, “To serve the Rakyat.” Well. For once, do it! Work together now (ALL political parties), if they still want, slug it out when things are better. What we need now is stability.

Steel Engineering – Connection Design

This is a continuation of the Support Truss that I was doing previously. Since, it has to be connected to Reinforced Concrete (probably to the beam or column) the usual methods are either 1) Cast-in bolts or 2) Chemical bolts.

Can’t include a sketch, as I noticed the sketches (done originally in Microsoft Excel) that I inserted earlier did not come out properly. Can anyone help me with this?

Basically Cast-In bolts are inserted into the timber formwork before the beams or columns are concreted. The protruding threads (say 50mm protrusion) connects to pre-punched plates that have been welded to the truss.

As for chemical bolts (example Hilti, Ramsett etc) are special bolts that are used after RC beams or columns have been casted. Holes are drilled into the concrete and these bolts are then inserted breaking a seal which releases certain chemical which bonds the bolt to the concrete.

Anyway, I have a stand alone program that calculates bolt shear, bolt bearing, plate bearing, welds, bolt tensile capacity and good things like that. All these are designed based on the British Code, BS5950. (Must see how I can improve that software now that I have more free time).

Please note that there are 2 common types of bolts, Grade 4.6 and Grade 8.8. The different grade has different shear strength. The formula for calculating the shear capacity is : Ps = ps x As , where ps is the shear strength ( 160 N/mm2 for Grade 4.6 and 970 N/mm2 for Grade 8.8). As is the tensile area of the bolt.

Similar there are 2 common different grades for steel plates, Grade 46 and Grade 50.


I got to think ways how to get through this downturn. Remember, for always every disaster, there are always opportunities. Think out of the box. Not merely increasing productivity but more ideas that one can do. A successful friend once told me, that there is no law that dictate that a person can’t get rich during the worst recession. Just can’t rely on the Government to improve things. More about these the next time.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Surprise announcement by SAPP today, guess they are not too happy with the present Government. I think I should clarify that I am neither pro-Government nor pro-Opposition. I support whoever that strive to improve the lives of the ordinary people.

However, I think any further stability now would only worsen the economy. Please, its time for everyone (especially ALL the political parties) to unite and work together to get the economy moving again. At the very least, they should at least postpone their quarrel until things get better. Serve the people, the lower and middle-class is struggling to make ends meet.


· Determine the nodal coordinates to model the truss.

· Determine the Uniformly Distributed Loads and apply it to truss. (based on Live, Dead & Wind Load)

· Run Analysis

· Check maximum axial and tensile forces in members.

· Check selected members for their axial and tensile capacity. (dependent on area, radius of gyration, unbraced length etc)

Remember, in Malaysia, we have to comply with the British Code – BS5950.

Voila! – we are done. Easier than baking a cake, right? (I have been watching a lot of those cooking shows on TV).

Got to cut this short as I still have to work on the connection design. That is how to connect the truss to the RC beam. More on that the next time.

In the meantime, happy Engineering & take care.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Well, its’ another new day. I do try to have a positive outlook each day, with thoughts like, I might get a new project or maybe I will be paid. One can always hope, right?

News still dominated by the fuel hike. Bad news is petrol has exceeded US139 a barrel. The good news is Saudi Arabia plan to increase their output.

I applaud the Government in their efforts to alleviate the sufferings of the people through cash rebates, petrol card plan etc. However, it seems they are doing it in a haphazard way. I wonder whether they conducted a thorough study and planning before the petrol hike.

The biggest fear I had when I heard about the increase was not so much the actual increase in price but more how it will adversely affect the economy. Unfortunately, that nightmare has come to pass as the Construction (can’t really comment about the other sectors) sector has slowed tremendously.

I sincerely hope the Government fully concentrate on reviving the economy (not measures by cutting their entertainment allowance by a whopping 10%)


I sent the following sketch to my client today to clarify on the actual dimensions. Without this information I am unable to proceed with the design of the support truss.

The actual design is not difficult. However, sometimes the actual clarifications etc is a bit time consuming.

Project :


Date :

Bldg :

Item :

Design Loads


RC Slab ?



Need Dimensions.

Based on the diagram above, the structure is unstable. Only 1 point of support. Is if possible to use the following


RC Slab



Add Strut


More on the above support truss once I have the dimensions.

So happy Engineering & take care.