Premature failure of bridge deck expansion joints on highways has become of increasing concern to engineers and has created a serious maintenance problem with associated interruptions on busy roads. As part of a major research programme, initiated by the Transport and Road Research Laboratory (TRRL) to examine this problem, the University of Nottingham was commissioned to develop a suitable prototype laboratory testing device for expansion joints accommodating movements up to 50mm. An Expansion Joint Simulator was developed to perform accelerated tests on sections of bridge deck expansion joint of the buried or plug type. The equipment reproduced horizontal, vertical and rotational movements simulative of those induced by moving traffic as well as the long term movements associated with temperature changes. A series of tests on simplified buried joints was conducted which revealed that horizontal movements were more damaging than vertical or rotational ones. Failure mechanisms similar to those which occur on site developed. The results were used to produce a preliminary prediction method for joint lives.

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