Skip to main content

The Preston tube as a means of measuring skin friction

  • M. R. Head (a1) and I. Rechenberg (a1)

Preston's method of measuring skin friction, which makes use of a Pitot tube resting on the surface, depends upon the assumption of a region of flow similarity, adjacent to the wall, common to fully developed turbulent pipe flow and the turbulent boundary layer. Experiments performed elsewhere have cast considerable doubt on the validity of this assumption, and the present investigation was undertaken to establish whether or not it is justified.

Experiments were carried out in a short length of large-diameter pipe which could either form part of a very much longer pipe, giving fully developed turbulent pipe flow, or could be preceded by a conventional contraction and screens, giving a developing turbulent boundary layer.

Final results showed that for a given skin friction the Pitot tube reading was the same for both boundary layer and pipe flows, thus vindicating Preston's method and confirming the existence of a universal region of wall similarity. Initial experimental difficulties were found to be due to unexpectedly large circumferential variations in skin friction in the growing boundary layer.

Hide All
Dutton, R. A. 1956 The accuracy of the measurement of turbulent skin friction by means of surface pitot-tubes and the distribution of skin friction on a flat plate. Aero. Res. Counc., Lond., Rep. & Mem. no. 3058.
Hsu, E. Y. 1955 The measurement of local turbulent skin friction by means of surface tubes. David W. Taylor Model Basin Rep. no. 957.
Konstantinov, N. I. & Dragnysh, G. I. 1960 The measurement of friction stress on a surface. (Trans.) D.S.I.R. RTS 1499.
Landweber, L. 1960 Reanalysis of boundary-layer data on a flat plate. Written discussion for Ninth International Towing Tank Conference, Paris, 1960. Iowa Institute of Hydraulic Research, State University of Iowa.
Ludwieg, H. & Tillmann, W. 1950 Investigations of the wall shearing stress in turbulent boundary layers. (Trans.) Nat. Adv. Comm. Aero., Wash., Tech. Mem. no. 1285.
Maltby, R. L. & Keating, R. F. A. 1960 Flow visualization in low-speed wind tunnels: Current British practice. Aero. Res. Counc., Lond., Rep. no. 22, 373.
Preston, J. H. 1954 The determination of turbulent skin friction by means of pitot tubes. J. Roy. Aero. Soc. 58, 109.
Schubauer, G. B. 1957 Mechanism of transition at subsonic speeds. I.U.T.A.M. Symposium, Freiburg/BR (Published by Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1958).
Smith, D. S. & Walker, J. H. 1958 Skin friction measurements in incompressible flow. Nat. Adv. Comm. Aero., Wash., Tech. Note no. 4231.
STAFF OF THE AERODYNAMICS DIVISION, N.P.L. 1958 On the measurements of local surface friction on a flat plate by means of Preston tubes. Aero. Res. Counc., Lond., Rep. & Mem. no. 3185.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Fluid Mechanics
  • ISSN: 0022-1120
  • EISSN: 1469-7645
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-fluid-mechanics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed