🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur
Manual rosin presses require manual force to depress a lever without the assistance of any hydraulics or pneumatics. Manual presses demand significant physical output from the extractor to apply pressure onto the source material. You can learn more about the different types of rosin presses in the article Best Types of Rosin Presses.
So what if you have one of these hand operated rosin presses you want to modify into a more automated type? The good news is that there are a variety of options to transform your manual rosin press into something more automated, giving you the ability to apply greater amounts of pressure and exert a higher level of control over that pressure. These modifications come in the form of pumps, which replace the stripped-down lever mechanics of manual presses. The ability to modify your rosin press is one of the benefits to building your own, which you can read more about in How To Build Your Own Rosin Press. This article also outlines the basic components of H-frame presses, the most common setups for rosin presses.
Hand Pump with Hydraulics
These are the most basic pumps, which utilize a hand-pumped lever to increase the hydraulic pressure within a cylinder. The cylinder is connected to the press with a hose system, and both are filled with oil. As the lever is pumped up and down, the hydraulic pressure inside the cylinder increases, which is converted into force applied to the rosin plates via the oil in the hose.
These pumps are great for pressing hash or sift, or smaller amounts of flower where less amounts of pressure are needed for a full extraction. This is also the lowest-cost option.
This is still a manual process, as the hydraulic pressure inside the cylinder is controlled strictly by the physical force that the operator applies to the lever. The more pumps on the lever, the more pressure will build inside the cylinder. This pressure is transferred through the oil-filled hose and applied as force against the driving ram of the press, which pushes the rosin plates together.
For more automation of the hydraulic set up, you can utilize compressed air to increase the amount of hydraulic pressure being generated, rather than the standard hand-controlled lever action. To do this, you can upgrade to the air operated hydraulic pump.
Simple and quiet to use
You can "feel" your way to optimal pressure during extraction
Requires manual input
Harder to achieve the high pressure needed for large amounts of flower rosin
Air Operated Hydraulic Pump
The air operated hydraulic pump uses compressed air to increase hydraulic pressure in the cylinder. This involves connecting a specialized air compressor to the cylinder with a high-pressure hose.
Start by applying tape to the male threaded end of the hose, then screw the male high-pressure coupling onto the hose end. You can put the coupling in a vice to provide stability when screwing these together with a wrench to help ensure it’s super tight. Then apply the thread tape to the other male end and screw the hose assembly tightly into the pump. Then place the dust cap on the open end of the hose.
Take the female high pressure coupling and apply thread tape to the threaded male end. Screw the male end of the high pressure coupler onto a female socket. Then fill the oil tank in the air compressor unit with ISO 68 hydraulic oil for warm climates and or ISO 46 for colder climates. Reinstall the breather cap on the unit once it’s filled with oil, leaving around ¼ inch at the top to allow for expansion.
Connect the two couplers together and prepare to prime the pump. Connect compressed air to the pump’s inlet and activate the air, forcing oil to run through the end of the hose to effectively prime the unit. Make sure to have a container ready to catch the oil as it drains out the end of the hose. This open end of the hose will then be attached to the press.
Then the next step is to connect the pump and hose assembly to the press. Once the unit is connected to the press, it’s ready for use.
These air pumps are capable of easily generating high amounts of pressure, which is great for pressing flower at a commercial level. One thing to note is that these air operated pumps are loud! If you’re working in an environment where noisy blasts of air prove to be disruptive, the electric hydraulic pump may be the better option.
Automated pressure control, doesn’t require much physical output from the extractor
Achieve higher pressure capacity more easily
Requires some extra equipment and space
Electric Hydraulic Pump
Electric hydraulic pumps use electricity rather than compressed air to control hydraulic pressure inside the cylinder. These usually only require 115 volts, meaning no special outlets or power cords are needed. They’re also low maintenance and easy to install.
The main downside is the cost, but if you’re a commercial operation and sensitive to the noise of an air controlled pump, the electric hydraulic pumps are the perfect choice. Electric hydraulic pumps are comparable in size to the air controlled hydraulic pumps, if not slightly larger. That said, the cost can be significantly larger, into the thousands of dollars.
The hydraulic hose from an electric hydraulic pump connects to your rosin press in the same way as an air controlled pump. You’ll need to operate near an electrical outlet so that the electric pump can be plugged in.
Most expensive type of pump modification
The foot pump is a variation of the air operated hydraulic pump. Rather than a button or a switch to control the air pressure by hand, a foot pump employs a pedal that lets the extractor control airflow while keeping both hands free to work. The unit sits on the floor, and it’s depressed just like a gas pedal in a car whenever airflow is needed to increase pressure.
The same basic mechanisms are employed as the air operated hydraulics described above, except that the air control valve is designed for activation with the foot rather than the hand. This frees up the extractor’s hands while applying pressure during extraction. Often the same unit is compatible for either table top or floor use, with different types of levers depending on whether hand or foot control will be employed.
Allows the extractor to keep both hands free while simultaneously controlling pressure output
Often the same air controlled units can be modified for either hand or foot pump activation
Can potentially be a tripping hazard if thoughtful placement is overlooked
Ensuring that the equipment and connections you use are capable of handling the pressure that your unit puts out is absolutely critical to your safety. Hydraulic fluid is dangerous, especially if there’s an explosion and the oil is blasted forcefully into the skin.
Another note on performance: make sure that the oil capacity of the pump is greater than the oil capacity of the ram you are using, otherwise the ram will not fully extend.
H-frame presses are ideal for pressing rosin. They’re easy to set up yourself and can accommodate a variety of modifications including different rosin press plates and pumps. If you build an H-frame press with a hand pump to start, you can easily upgrade to another style of hydraulic pump as your extraction needs evolve.
With pump modifications you can customize your press to suit your operation. Whether pressing large or small amounts of flower at a time, or going with lighter pressure applications for bubble hash or sift, there are a variety of pumps to help deliver the results you need.
What type of pump are you using? Let us know in the comments!
Thoughts? Let us know by joining our secret Facebook group. Hang out with a community of like-minded solventless heads like yourself. Ask our head extractor questions, share your latest press and learn from hobbyists and experts in the industry.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is the best kind of pump modification?
It depends on what you're looking for. The electric hydraulic pump is the best for low noise and complete automation, while the hand pump is best for a low cost option.
Is an air-controlled hydraulic pump very loud?
Yes, the air-controlled pumps make a loud banging noise every time pressure is increased. If you're working in a space where disruptive noise is an issue, opt for another type of pump.
Why use a foot pump?
The best advantage of a foot pump is that it lets you adjust pressure during extraction while keeping both hands free at the same time.
Does an electric hydraulic pump require a special outlet?
No, most electric pumps require regular 115 volt outlets.
Can I just use the hand pump that came with my h-frame hydraulic press?
Yes, this will be fine unless you're pressing large amounts of flower at once, in which case greater amounts of pressure are required.