A structure may be built-up from subsystems that are attached to each other by bolted joints. If the structure is allowed to vibrate the bolted joints provide a significant contribution to the absorption of energy and are thus an important source of vibration damping. The details of such damping should be included in computer simulations but unfortunately too little is known about joints to make this possible. An experimental apparatus has been developed to investigate damping and is described in this paper together with two sets of experiments. The experimental apparatus consists of two masses and a spring which can be set into vibration and exercise the bolted joints. The decay of the vibration enables the rate of energy dissipation to be measured. The accuracy of the measurement process is examined in detail and a relationship between the noise in the measurements and the errors in the determination of damping formulated.

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