We present a new instability theorem which yields stability predictions for
any multi-degree-of-freedom elastic system subjected to two or more loads.
Predictions are based solely on the form of the equilibrium surfaces in the
space of loads and their corresponding displacements. We apply this to the
torsional buckling of an elastic rod which can be free or contacting a
cylindrical casing, as with a drill-string within its bore-hole. We
investigate the stability of the post-buckling states of the rod under an
axial load and a twisting moment acting through the end rotation. In a 4D
space spanned by the loads and their displacements, we consider all loading
situations in which two variables are controlled, the remaining two being
passive responses. Cases of particular interest are totally dead loading
and mixed loading with the control of one load and the other displacement.
Stability properties are uncovered using a circle-signature technique.
The new graphical criterion is useful when varying wall contact hinders a
conventional stability analysis, and in experiments where the behaviour
under dead loads can be inferred from tests under rigid loading.
keywords: elastic stability, dead and rigid loading, instability theorem, multiple loads, drill-stringsInt. J. Mech. Sci. 68, 160-170 (2013)