Aerodynamics of a stay cable with helical fillets - Part I: Stability and load characteristics

Henrik Christiansen, J. B. Jakobsen, John H G Macdonald, G. L. Larose, H. R. Bosch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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The aerodynamic behaviour of a bridge stay cable with helical fillets in smooth flow at high Reynolds numbers is presented in this paper. The cable response and related sectional load characteristics were studied experimentally on a 1:1 scale cable section model. The studies showed that a cable with helical fillets inclined 60° to the flow could experience large amplitude wind induced vibrations and that the occurrence of vibrations were highly dependent on cable surface irregularities. The ambition is not to explain fully the excitation mechanism, but to present global and local influences of the helical fillets on the flow field. It was revealed that the flow field around the cable shifted between semi-stable transition states which took place when the transition from laminar to turbulent flow propagated from the free shear layers to the boundary layer. The transitions would form locally and spread along the cable axis. The helical fillet appeared to dominate the local flow structures when located at an angular position between 40° and 130° from the stagnation region. In the stagnation and base regions, the surface irregularities appeared to dominate. Furthermore, the helical fillets displaced the mean stagnation line. The application of quasi-steady theory with the measurement data available appeared not to be able to explain the vibrations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-391
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics
Early online date3 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Bridge stay cable
  • Cable instability
  • Helical fillets
  • Inclined circular cylinder
  • Quasi-steady theory
  • Reynolds number
  • Sectional loads
  • Surface pressures


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