Does using multiple shear pins under a limiting torque case reduce the minimum required shear pin diameter for the coupling or is the complete load distributed over the shear pins regardless of the number of shear pins that are used?

Pinned sleeve shaft coupling formula (Mechanical Engineer Data handbook - James Carvill)

  • $\begingroup$ Most torque should be taken by the coupling - shaft connection , not the pin ( or a keyway). $\endgroup$ Commented May 25, 2021 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ @blacksmith37 - I think a shear-pin design intended to limit torque by breaking, would be different from one intended to stay intact under all use cases... I suspect the first would need some clearance to make sure ~100% of the torque goes through the pins $\endgroup$
    – Pete W
    Commented May 25, 2021 at 14:00
  • $\begingroup$ @PeteW if two pins were used with clearance (i.e. they were not pressfitted), I would be very nervous about designing the pins to half the torque. The clearance would (most likely) mean that one of the pins would engage sooner than the other and therefore will carry the majority of the torque. what do you think? $\endgroup$
    – NMech
    Commented May 25, 2021 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ @NMech, I meant on the shaft OD, agree completely about the pin OD. sorry wasn't more clear $\endgroup$
    – Pete W
    Commented May 25, 2021 at 15:28
  • $\begingroup$ @NMech The pin bearing all torque will most likely deform until the other one engages. Whether that deformation will be entirely in the elastic regime (harmless), plastic (reduce load-bearing capacity), or past completely shearing off depends on the materials and tolerances. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Commented May 26, 2021 at 7:09

2 Answers 2


Multiple pins would share the torque if they are radialy positioned and the sleeve bore holes are machined snug.

For example in your case if we have two perpendicular pins the shear on each end is 1/4 of total shear.

In many precisision applications such as aviation or heavy construction that they require multiple fasteners, even in complex geometry like the empenage of an airplane, the load is divded between the rivets. So each rivet takes a contributory load as a fraction of the total joint load.


There is one pin in each shaft, so each pin takes the full load but in two places. This is known as double shear.

If you put 2 pins for each shaft then there would be 4 sections of pin taking the load so the pins would need re-sizing, otherwise they would be too strong and something else more expensive will break.

  • $\begingroup$ Hi @SolarMike , thank you for your reply. I have a follow-up question. If for example, I have a Ø80mm shaft which should be able to transfer 22,500Nm of torque. The minimum pin diameter for this case results in a steel pin (assuming shear strength = 370MPa) of 31mm, which is too big to be used for the mentioned shaft. What is the best approach in this situation? Increasing the diameter of the shaft is not really an option. $\endgroup$ Commented May 25, 2021 at 12:33
  • $\begingroup$ @mech_engineer_12R did you consider the double shear? ie 1 pin of 31mm in single shear or two sections of 15.5mm... Your image shows double shear... Also the material of the pin makes a difference. $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Commented May 25, 2021 at 12:35
  • $\begingroup$ @mech_engineer_12R another option to carry such a high torque (22500) would be to use a keyway coupler. You can increase the length as much as you need $\endgroup$
    – NMech
    Commented May 25, 2021 at 13:02
  • $\begingroup$ Due to torque, the pin will have two shearing planes at the opposite sides, each shear plane has a shear stress in the opposite direction of the other, I would think it is a single shear though. $\endgroup$
    – r13
    Commented May 25, 2021 at 19:11

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