AC398 Now Includes Moment Evaluation of Cast-in-Place Post Bases

This week’s post was written by Jhalak Vasavada, Research & Development Engineer at Simpson Strong-Tie.

When we launched our new, patent-pending MPBZ moment post base earlier this year, the evaluation of the moment capacity of post bases was not covered by AC398 – or by any other code, for that matter. There wasn’t a need – there were no code-accepted connectors available on the market for resisting moment loads.

We proposed adding moment evaluation to the AC398 and presented our research to the ICC-ES committee in June. After a thorough review, which included a public hearing, the provision was approved. Here are some details about the revisions to this acceptance criteria.

What is AC398?

AC398 is the Acceptance Criteria for cast-in-place cold-formed steel connectors in concrete for light-frame construction.

Acceptance criteria are developed to provide guidelines for demonstrating compliance with performance features of the codes referenced in the criteria. ICC-ES develops acceptance criteria for products and systems that are alternatives to what is specified in the code, or that fall under code provisions that are not sufficiently clear for the issuance of an evaluation report.

The criteria are developed through a transparent process involving public hearings of the ICC-ES Evaluation Committee (made up entirely of code officials), and/or online postings where public comments were solicited.

How is the moment load evaluated?

The MPBZ moment post base is a cast-in-place post base designed to resist uplift, download, lateral and moment forces. This blog post in February describes how it works, how it was tested and includes a design example. Since the MPBZ falls under the specialty inserts category of cast-in anchorage, it is not covered by the provisions of chapter 17 of ACI 318-14. Therefore, the MPBZ was evaluated based on AC398 for anchorage to concrete.

Our engineers worked closely with ICC-ES and the American Wood Council to develop evaluation criteria for moment. This revision to the criteria for moment evaluation and testing was posted for public comments on the ICC-ES website, and then presented by our engineers at the ICC-ES committee hearing last June. The presentation included the design, use, testing and load rating of the MPBZ. Following the hearing, and a thorough review, the committee approved the proposed revision to AC398.

What are the revisions to AC398?

With reference to moment evaluation, a few of the key changes to AC398 are:

  1. Moment Anchorage Strength: Similar to tension and shear anchorage strength, the available moment anchorage strength shall be determined using the equation

Where F = applied horizontal test force used to determine moment strength (lbf)

D = vertical distance from top of concrete member to the applied lateral test force F (ft.) (moment arm)

Other terms are as previously defined for tension and shear anchorage strength equations.

  1. Rotation: Testing of moment base connectors subject to an applied moment shall include measurement and reporting of the connector rotation as determined by the relative lateral displacement of gauges positioned 1″ and 5″ above the top of the connector.
  2. Side Bearing: Testing of moment base connectors that rely on bearing of the wood member against the side of the connector to resist moment loads shall address wood shrinkage.

Learn more about the MPBZ in our free upcoming webinar.

Join us live on December 6 for an interactive webinar on the MPBZ moment post base, its evaluation, its testing and its applications. In this webinar, we will discuss MPBZ moment post base product features, product development, design examples and much more. Attendees will also have an opportunity to ask questions during the event. Continuing education units will be offered for completing this webinar. Register today here.

Upcoming free MPBZ webinar.

Join Simpson Strong-Tie R&D engineer Jhalak Vasavada, P.E., and Simpson Strong-Tie product manager Emmet Mielbrecht for a lively and informative discussion of this new product.

New Moment-Resisting Post Base

Jhakak Vasavada

Jhalak Vasavada is currently a Research & Development Engineer for Simpson Strong-Tie. She has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Maharaja Sayajirao (M.S.) University of Baroda, Gujarat, India, and a master’s degree in structural engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL. After graduation, she worked for an environmental consulting firm called TriHydro Corporation and as a structural engineer with Sargent & Lundy, LLC, based in Chicago, IL. She worked on the design of power plant structures such as chimney foundations, boiler building and turbine building steel design and design of flue gas ductwork. She is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Michigan.

At Simpson Strong-Tie, we strive to make an engineer’s life easier by developing products that help with design efficiency. Our products are designed and tested to the highest standards, and that gives structural engineers the confidence that they’re using the best product for their application.

Installed MPBZ

Figure 1: Installed MPBZ

Having worked in the design industry for almost a decade, I can attest that having a catalog where you can select a product that solves an engineer’s design dilemma can be a huge time- and money-saving tool. Design engineers are always trying to create efficient designs, although cost and schedule are always constraints. Moment connections can be very efficient — provided they are designed and detailed correctly. With that in mind, we developed a moment post base connector that can resist moment in addition to download, uplift and lateral loads. In this post, I would like to talk about moment-resisting/fixed connections for post bases and also talk about the product design process.

Figure 2. MPB44Z Graphic

Figure 2. MPB44Z Graphic

Lateral forces from wind and seismic loads on a structure are typically resisted by a lateral-force-resisting system. There are three main systems used for ordinary rectangular structures: (a) braced frames, (b) moment frames and (c) shearwalls. Moment frames resist lateral forces through bending in the frame members. Moment frames allow for open frames by eliminating the need for vertical bracing or knee bracing. Moment resistance or fixity at the column base is achieved by providing translational and rotational resistance. The new patent-pending Simpson Strong-Tie® MPBZ moment post base is specifically designed to provide moment resistance for columns and posts. An innovative overlapping sleeve design encapsulates the post, helping to resist rotation at its base.

The allowable loads we publish have what I call “triple backup.” This backup consists of Finite Element Analysis (FEA), code-compliant calculations and test data. Here are descriptions of what I mean by that.

Finite Element Analysis Confirmation

Once a preliminary design for the product is developed, FEA is performed to confirm that the product behaves as we expect it to in different load conditions. Several iterations are run to come up with the most efficient design.

Figure 3. FEA Output of Preliminary MPB Conceptual Design

Figure 3. FEA Output of Preliminary MPB Conceptual Design

Code-Compliance Calculations

Load calculations are prepared in accordance with the latest industry standards. The connector limit states are calculated for the wood-post-to-MPBZ connection and for MPBZ anchorage in concrete. Steel tensile strength is determined in accordance with ICC-ES AC398 and AISI S100-07. Wood connection strength is determined in accordance with ICC-ES AC398 and AC13. Fastener design is analyzed as per NDS. SDS screw values are analyzed using known allowable values per code report ESR-2236. The available moment capacity of the post base fastened to the wood member is calculated in accordance with the applicable bearing capacity of the post and lateral design strength of the fasteners per the NDS or ESR values. Concrete anchorage pull-out strength is determined in accordance with AC398.

Test Data Verification

The moment post base is tested for anchorage in both cracked and uncracked concrete in accordance with ICC-ES AC398.

Figure 4. Uplift Test Setup

Figure 4. Uplift Test Setup

The moment post base assembly is tested for connection strength in accordance with ICC-ES AC13.

Figure 5: Moment (induced by lateral load application) Test Set Up

Figure 5: Moment (induced by lateral load application) Test Set Up

The assembly (post and MPBZ) is tested for various loading conditions: download, uplift and lateral load in both orthographic directions and moment. Applicable factor(s) of safety are applied, and the controlling load for each load condition is published in the Simpson Strong-Tie Wood Construction Connectors Catalog.

Now let’s take a look at a sign post base design example to see how the MPBZ data can be used.

Design Example:

Figure 6: Sign Post Base Design Example

Figure 6: Sign Post Base Design Example

The MPB44Z is used to support a 9ʹ-tall 4×4 post with a 2ʹ x 2ʹ sign mounted at the top. The wind load acting on the surface of the sign is determined to be 100 lb. The MPB44Z is installed into concrete that is assumed to be cracked.

  • The design lateral load due to wind at the MPB44Z is 100 lb.
  • The design moment due to wind at the MPB44Z is (100 lb.) x (8 ft.) = 800 ft.-lb.
  • The Allowable Loads for the MPB44Z are:
    • Lateral (F1) = 1,280 lb.
    • Moment (M) = 985 ft.-lb.
  • Simultaneous Load Check:
    • 800/985 + 100/1,280 = 0.89. This is less than 1.0 and is therefore acceptable.


We are very excited about our new MPBZ! We hope that this product will get you excited about your next open-structure design. Let us know your thoughts by providing comments here.