tips articles

Lateral Bracing: Key to model bridge strength

Lateral what, you ask? If you don’t know what this is, you aren’t alone. In fact, it took me quite a while to understand how important lateral bracing is to the success of a model bridge, especially when striving for high strength or efficiency. Definition of lateral bracing Lateral bracing is the term we use to refer to any pieces on a bridge that help keep the sides (trusses) from twisting. It also helps keep the top chords of the bridge from […]


More SO Bridge Building Tips

An L-beam is more efficient than a square the same width. It is not going to hold as much, but it is going to be more efficient. An L-beam is also more efficient than a square with the same mass of wood. Of course, you have to count in the glue weight for an L-beam.Balsa, for some reason it seems, needs to be thick but low-density for pieces in compression. For tension, you have to worry about the face of […]


Science Olympiad Boomilever

Objective: To build a boomilever with the greatest efficiency. There are two basic types of boomilevers. First is the tension boomilever, where the tension chord is longer than the compression chord. Second there is the compression boomilever, which is the opposite of the tension. It is generally accepted that the tension…


Science Olympiad Bridges

Question: What’s your take on the new scoring. Do you think the bridge should just aim at holding 15 kg… or try to build one that’s lighter and hold less possibly getting a higher efficiency score? I used to think that you should go lighter, holding less. But now I think that you should aim at holding the 15, but no worries if it doesn’t. That rule gives a lot more freedom to builders, and now they can go lighter […]


Testing – Top Loading

This post is continued from How to Test Your Model Bridge Loading a bridge by placing weights on top of it has become my method of choice. This is because I have access to a weight set with ample weights to to break any bridge I have created so far. This method is quite and easy, and requires a minimum of equipment. In fact, I do not even need a scale and can simply add up the total of the […]


Testing Tips

This Post Has Been Updated Click Here There are several ways to test model bridges: With a machine By pouring sand Textbooks Pushing down on your bridge Using a machine Obviously, if a machine is being used to test your bridge, there isn’t a lot you can do. You can stand watching the destruction of your bridge. Or turn away and cover your eyes with your hands. I would not recommend the latter option. You miss out on the most […]


Testing Tips – Hanging Bucket Method

This article is continued from the page: How to Test Your Model Bridge. The above photos give you several examples of the hanging bucket method used in real life situations. This method is fairly versatile, and you can adapt it to fit your needs. Please notice that in each of these photos there is a loading block that fits into the bridge, which in turn suspends the bucket with various hardware. You can use this method to load the bridge […]


Truss Design

Learn all the main types of trusses used in real bridges, and see how to apply them to model bridges. Learn the history of each common truss design. This page is designed to help you make an educated decision about what truss design you should use on your bridge.


What Bridge Design Holds the Most Weight?

Probably the question I get asked the most is “What bridge design holds the most weight?” or “What bridge design is the strongest?”

The answer to that question is not simple and probably is not going to be what you expect. The truth is, I cannot answer the question. There are too many variables that are not being defined.


Wood Tips: Balsa or Basswood?

I am constantly asked whether Balsa is better than Basswood. Here are some of my notes comparing the two woods. Balsa is cheaper and more available than Basswood. This means you can buy more wood and build more bridges for the same amount of money. Hobby and craft stores seem to sell a larger selection of Balsa (Michaels, etc). If money is short but you want to build a lot of bridges or plan to constantly improve your designs as […]


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