A Big Secret About the Diameter Tape Measure

The Diameter Tape Secret
The Diameter Tape Measure Secret

Diameter tape measures are made for wrapping around pipes and poles, to find the diameter. That’s a good enough reason to keep one in your tool box, garage, and vehicle. But there’s one feature that no one talks about, until now….

The other side of the diameter tape measure is a regular tape measure, in inches or centimeters. It measures length, not diameter. So, even though it is a special tape, it is also a handy every day tape, too. Lufkin, and the other manufacturers, thought of everything when they designed these handy pocket tapes. Everyone should have one or two.

Lufkin Y906PD pipe diameter tape measure, not Barlow W906PD Lufkin Diameter Tape

 

What Will Pipe Diameter Tape Measures look like in 2030?

Measuring Techniques
Measuring Techniques

There are distance measuring apps out there, but measuring the diameter of a pipe presents a unique measuring situation.

  • Calibration. There will need to be some way of checking to see if the app is working correctly. You will need to measure a known standard to see if the app is measuring right. If not, there needs to be some way of calibrating or adjusting the reading, to make it accurate. In other words, if you measure a 2 inch pipe, and the app says 2.1 inches, you need a way to adjust the setting to read 2.0 inches. Otherwise, when you measure a 3 inch pipe or any size pipe, the measurement would be off.
  • Calibration should be done with different sizes of pipe, to make sure you will get an accurate reading at any of those sizes.
  • The curvature of the pipe needs to be considered. You aren’t taking a picture of a 2D object. The pipe is 3D, so your camera may not see the top and bottom of the pipe as being 180 degrees away from each other. If you are too close to the pipe, you wouldn’t see the full 180 degrees. So your measurement would be too small.
  • Resolution of measuring. A pipe diameter tape measure normally has a resolution of 100th of an inch diameter. Can a smart phone app be that accurate?
  • The nearness of the object. For calibration, we would need some standard distance from the cell phone. Maybe this could be accomplished by using an object like a 12″ ruler, placed between the pipe and the phone. Hopefully, a less mechanical method will pop up.

If you know of an app that can accurately measure pipe diameter, please let me know. If one does not exist, I’m sure it will be invented in the near future.

The Mystery of Pipe Diameter Tape Measure Codes

Mystery of Diameter Tape Codes
Mystery of Diameter Tape Codes

Lufkin pipe diameter tape measure products are available with different scales. To find the right tape for your needs, here is how to read the codes that are embedded in the SKU numbers.

  • “P” means that it is a “pi” tape, also known as a diameter tape.

Examples are w606p, w906pd, w606pm, asw616pd, w606pd, w906p.

  • “D” means that it measures in tenths of an inch. If the “D” were missing, it would measure in 64ths of an inch.

Examples are w906pd, asw616pd, w606pd.

  • “M” means that it measures in metric scale.

An example is w606pm.

3 Easy Steps to Use a Pipe Diameter Tape Measure

How To Use A Diameter Tape
How To Use A Diameter Tape

This time, we won’t get into the geometry theory of pi that we had in high school. The magic of a pipe diameter tape measure is its simplicity of use. Here are the 3 steps to find the diameter of a pipeline:

  1. Clean the pipe surface. Soil and any other contamination, of course, will make the pipe seem bigger than it really is.
  2. Wrap the diameter tape around it, with the diameter scale visible to you.
  3. Simply read off the tape. This will be the diameter, even though the tape is wrapped around the circumference. That’s all!

Some things to watch for…..Some OD tapes (diameter tapes) are marked in 100ths of an inch. Some are marked in 64ths of an inch. On the 64ths of an inch tape, 32/64 would be 1/2″. 16/64 would be 1/4″. 24/64 would be 3/8″. For convenience, you can use a magic marker to mark some of these common, but confusing measurements.

For a 2 1/2 minute video with more detail, click How To Use A Diameter Tape.

 

Give A Diameter Tape Measure For Christmas

Give Diameter Tapes for Christmas
Give Diameter Tapes for Christmas

A diameter tape measure can save you a lot of time and frustration when you want to find the OD (outside diameter) of a pipe, post, or tree. This special tape has the inch scale (or metric scale) stretched out by a factor of pi (3.14159). So, if you wrap it around the pipeline, you will not see the “circumference”. You will see its diameter. You don’t need to divide your answer by 3.14159.

This Weird Diameter Tape Measure Can Make Your Life Easier

You may be part of a special group of people. We can call this group, FDTU, for “future diameter tape users”. To be in that group, you would have these three qualifications:

  1. You never heard of a Diameter tape measure.
  2. After you get one, and learn how to use it, you will use one every week for the rest of your life.
  3. You won’t believe how you ever got along without one.

To help you on this fun journey as a FDTU, let’s find out…

  • What is a diameter tape.

    It is a measuring tape that, when you wrap it around the circumference of a round object (pipeline or tree), it reads the “diameter”. If you would use a regular tape measure, you would have to divide by pi (3.14159) to get the diameter.

  • How to use a diameter tape.

    How To Measure the Diameter of a PipeYou simply wrap it around a pipe or shaft, or tree, and have the diameter scale face outward, so you can read it. Make sure you don’t use the other side, because it would give you the circumference. 

  • What you will use it on from now on, to make your life easier.

    If you need to replace a car heater hose, but you want to have the new hose on-hand before you remove the old hose, use your diameter tape to measure the diameter (and length) of the old hose. You can do the same routine when replacing plumbing.

My friend owns a marina. He never heard of a diameter tape. I gave him a diameter tape and told him what it was for. He was in the FDTU group, and now he uses this valuable diameter tape measure every day.

Are you in the FDTU Group? Now you know how a simple tape can make your life easier.

 

5 Pipe Diameter Tape Measure Tips

When you use your Lufkin or Pi-Cobra pipe diameter tape measure, here are 5 tips to keep you out of trouble.

How to Measure the Diameter of a Pipe
How to Measure the Diameter of a Pipe
  1. Make sure the pipe is free of dirt and mud. You don’t want to measure those things, just the pipe.
  2. Use the right tape. Do you want your answer in 100ths of an inch, 64ths of an inch, or millimeters? There is a tape for each purpose.
  3. Use the right side of the tape. The other side is probably a regular linear tape. It will give you the circumference, not the diameter.
  4. Wrap the tape around the pipe straight, not at an angle. If it is not straight, you will get an elevated result. You can test this by wiggling the tape so that it gives you the lowest reading.
  5. Be familiar with the scale. It can be tricky on a 64ths of an inch diameter tape. 48 on the scale means 3/4 ” diameter. The easy one is 32, which is of course 1/2″ diameter.

3 Ways You Can Use A Pipe Diameter Tape Measure To Save The Day

  1. Measure the diameter of a leaky heater hose on your car without taking it off and
    Pipe Diameter Tape Measure
    Pipe Diameter Tape Measure

    letting it drip. Then get a new hose the correct size. Take off the old hose, and immediately install the new one.

  2. When making changes to the copper pipe in your house, measure the outside diameter of the existing pipe, so you can buy the right size. Then you will have all the right sizes when you shut off your water, and start working. You won’t be interrupted by a hasty trip to the store.
  3. Does your boat need a new hose, and you don’t want to remove the old one until you have the right size replacement beside you? Just measure the outside diameter (OD) of the old one, and match it to the new one.

A pipe diameter tape measure is quick and easy to use. If you ever need to do any repair work like this, you definitely need an OD tape (diameter tape).

 

Why You Must Give Your Customers A Pipe Diameter Tape Measure

Well, not all your customers need a pipe diameter tape measure. But these customers really need one. Why not give them one with your company logo imprinted on it?:

  • Oilfield workers
  • Gas field workers
  • Plumbers

    Diameter Tapes
    Diameter Tapes
  • Car repair people
  • Boat repair people
  • Arborists
  • Pipeline inspectors
  • Municipal utility workers
  • HVAC installers and inspectors
  • Architects
  • Manufacturers
  • Building contractors
  • Building superintendents

If any of your customers are on this list, a pipe diameter tape measure  with your logo will be visible to them every work day.

Let a Diameter Tape Measure Do the Work For You

Do you need to know the outside diameter of a pipe, pipeline, or hose?

Here are your options:

  1. Wrap a flexible measuring tape around it and divide by pi (3.14159).
  2. Use a caliper and transfer its results to a ruler.
  3. Use a micrometer of the correct size range, and read the scale.
  4. Let a Diameter tape measure do all the work for you.

I prefer using method number 4. It is quick and accurate. Click here for the easy instructions:

Diameter Tapes
Diameter Tapes