In calculating the bolt stresses under lateral loads, such as caused by the differential thermal movement between two components — problems often found in the reactor internal design, the boundary condition of the bolt is usually conservatively assumed to be in a guided-cantilever beam mode, i.e., the bolt head is not allowed to rotate. In reality, the bolt head could rotate to a certain degree and, furthermore, the bolt head could slip, a form of loosening, under the lateral loads.

A series of lateral load-deflection tests was conducted on bolts of different sizes and different lengths, with different preloads, to study the bolt behaviors, including when the bolts start to slip and what is the effect of preloading on the slippage. Furthermore, finite element studies were conducted to correlate the test results to find the proper boundary condition to be used in the bolt stress calculation.

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