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.
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