The present paper reports methods and results of an extensive experimental project performed to assess the mechanical characteristics of ancient stone masonry walls of Tuscany (Italy). Some relevant considerations concerning the determination of common design shear strength parameters via experimental test results are also presented. Results from 22 in situ tests performed on nine large-scale stone masonry panels are reported. Test panels were selected as part of shear walls in six different old masonry buildings in the northern part of Tuscany so as to represent a reliable sample of the most common masonry types in this region. In situ tests were carried out according to experimental schemes for vertical compression, shear compression, and diagonal compression. After the first test, several panels were repaired and reinforced by means of cement mortar injections (full cement grouting) or reinforced concrete (RC) jackets, and then tested again to determine the effectiveness of the intervention. Particular attention was then devoted to evaluate the referential shear strength τk of these masonry assemblages in the original state. To this purpose, a fitting process for experimental data was used, adopting two different schemes for interpretation of the shear strength of masonry (the Coulomb and the Tumsek-Cacovic equations). The results from this work have shown that the Turnsek-Cacovic equation gives a better fit to experimental data than the Coulomb equation, especially for medium- and poor-quality masonry walls. Finally, conclusions are presented noting the difference between shear strength values calculated from fitting the data from test results and the values suggested by European and Italian standards.
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