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1. Hand Pumps


Hand pumps are mechanical devices used to move liquid or air from one position to another. In their simplest form, hydraulic hand pumps use cylinder actuators to convert mechanical force into hydraulic energy. These pumps are operated by hand and are designed for low pressure applications. 

                    hand pump

The average human cannot manage consistent pressure of more than a tenth of 1 horsepower for more than a minute. For this reason, most hand pumps are slow and are mostly used as an auxiliary hydraulic power source. Even though, hand pumps can generate pressure of more than 10,000 psi.

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2. Hand Pump Applications


Hand pumps come in many shapes and sizes. And their applications are just as extensive. You can find hand pumps being used around the home, on various implements on farms, in light industrial settings, and even in large plants and factories.

                                       hand pump application

A simple demonstration of the differences in size and scope of application for the technology behind hand pumps is a comparison between a bicycle tire pressure pump and a borehole pump. Both are hand pumps but are wildly different in their design, size, and application.

In industrial applications, the most common hand pump is the hydraulic version, which is used for dispensing lubricants that power all manner of hydraulic tools including:

     ●   Hydraulic cylinder jacks

     ●   Nut splitters

     ●   Spreaders

     ●   Bench presses    

Because of their relatively compact size, these pumps are also ideal for use in remote applications and on mobile equipment and machines with a variety of hydraulic tools. 

There are also hand pumps designed for multi-purpose use. Such pumps can be used to transfer fluids as well as air. All it takes is a change of the nozzle and you can be using the same pump you were using to empty a drum of oil to inflate a tire.

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3. Hand Pumps for Calibration


While hand pumps are mostly employed to transfer air and fluids for powering hydraulic equipment as well as lubrication and fueling processes, there are also hand pumps used for instrument calibration purposes. These high precision hand pumps ensure measuring instruments are operating to their specifications. 

For this application, hand pumps provide a cost effective way of testing the accuracy of pressure instruments. The risks for inaccurate measurements for most industrial applications are usually quite severe. 
Some of the tools hand pumps are used to calibrate include:

     ●   pressure transmitters

     ●   pressure transducers

     ●   pressure gauges

        pressure switches

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4. How Hand Pumps Work

A basic hand pump design features a reciprocating piston and two check valves on the entry and exit ports, which operate in alternation. At the base of the technology is the ability of the hand pump to use the air vacuum created by the piston on the inlet port to draw, or suck, and lift media from the reservoir and then, using the piston’s return force, transfer or discharge it to where it is desired.

hand pump work

A hand pump’s ability to displace a fluid is determined by the distance between the pump itself and both the source of the media to be pumped and the point to where it will be pumped. Just as critical is the size of the pump’s cylinder and the amount of power the person operating the pump is able to exert on the pump.

The total tonnage specified for the tool the hand pump is powering also determines if the hand pump will be suitable for the application. Just as well, the diameter of the pipe through which it is pumped also dictates just how much power you will need to put behind the pump to displace the fluid.

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5. Types of Hydraulic Hand Pumps


There are two basic types of hand pumps - single and double acting hand pumps. The two are separated by the speed at which they transfer the lubricant fluid and generate the power necessary for each application.

                             hydraulic pump

      ●   Single acting hand pumps rely on a spring to move the hand pump piston back when it retracts to suck in more fluid. The working fluid works only on one side of the cylinder. 

        Double acting pumps on the other hand, instead of springs, uses fluid pressure that is pushed in and out of the cylinder, to move the piston. These pumps have two ports for the fluid inlet and outlet.

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6. Critical Design Features of Hand Pumps


Due to their popularity, hand pumps have become utility items in most industrial settings. As a result, these pumps must meet the most stringent requirements for strength and function. 

The best hand pumps are designed to be easy to operate, maintain, and repair. Of course, the best hand pumps are those that require the least maintenance, or make such maintenance as cost effective as possible. 

The construction of these pumps has to be robust as some will likely be used in tough and demanding applications. Others will be subjected to extreme heat, wet, or cold conditions, where corrosion and other risks should be expected. There is even the likelihood that the pump will be subjected to a large volume of work, which speeds the wear and tear.

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7. Strong Materials for Durability and Reliability


For all these reasons, hand pumps from the leading manufacturers have bodies made from high grade steel and rubber for the handles. The parts that are most susceptible to friction, and the subsequent wear and tear, are also made from hardened steel, which is stronger and guarantee years of repeated use.

The goal with every hand pump design should always be high output from low operating force. This translates to a hand pump that is both easy and cheap to operate. 

For something that is also made to be mobile, in most cases, hand pumps should be a compact and lightweight build for greater portability. This is why some hand pump models have bodies made from aluminum as opposed to steel. 

The result is a hand pump that weighs, in some cases, half the weight of a hand pump featuring a steel body. Lightweight pumps are handy for applications where the operator has to constantly lift and move the pump around.

Some of the features you will want to look for as you consider your hand pump options include:

     ●   Pressure release valve for more accurate control of the fluid being transferred

     ●   An ergonomically positioned pressure gauge connecting port

     ●   A visible media gauge for pumps used to transfer fluid media like oil and other lubricants

     ●   A lockable, ideally push-to-unlock, handle that allows you to lock down the pump handle for ease of transportation and storage when not in use

     ●   Soft grip handles that are easier and more comfortable to grip, for reduced operator fatigue

     ●   Stable anti-slip stand that reduces the risk of the pump shifting and falling off if used from an elevated surface

Needless to mention, a well-designed hand pump, that is made from the best materials will also be reliable and won’t break down on you while you are out in the field.

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8. Benefits of Hand Pumps


Hand powered pumps have been used since the middle ages, mainly to draw water from wells. Since the industrial revolution, their areas of application have multiplied exponentially. This is despite the fact there is now a wider choice of alternative energy sources for powering them, like electric motors.

     1.   Low cost

This is an obvious one. Hand pumps do not need any power source, other than the operator’s physical force. For a motor powered pump, there would need to be an electricity port to plug the pump into. This presents a major cost saving, especially for pumps that have to be used frequently.

     2.   Low maintenance

Hand pumps feature a simple design and are made to be easy to operate. They don’t require any special knowledge to operate. Even for servicing, hand pumps are fairly easy to maintain and service. 

     3.   Portability

The first benefit of using hand pumps we cited is their relative cost and energy efficiency. But the fact that these pumps don’t need to be hooked up to a power source to be operated also makes them highly mobile.

You can take your hand oil pump anywhere, which allows you to oil and power your important tools and equipment from the field. This has tremendous advantages for saw mill rigs and other light sawing equipment for which you will need an auxiliary power source, and which you have to tow to remote locations where you don’t have access to electricity.

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9. How to Select Your Hydraulic Hand Pump


The hand pump you select should be the result of a careful assessment of your particular application. For hand pumps, the good news is you don’t need to worry about the source of power for your pump. 

But there are a few factors you should still consider:

     ●   Know the required operating force needed to power the hydraulic tool you will use the hand pump with. Most hand pumps indicate their maximum pressure output.

     ●   Your application is also a guide for the displacement or how much oil the hand pump must dispense per stroke. This informs whether you need a one or two speed pump. Two speed pumps dispense a higher volume of oil at low pressure for faster piston movement, and then shift to higher pressure while still under load.

     ●   This last factor is also directly related to a pump’s oil reservoir capacity. A larger reservoir capacity means your hand pump can power a wider range of tools and cylinders. Such a hand pump will be more expensive. But the benefit is you will only need to buy just one hand pump, which you will use for a myriad of applications as opposed to having several sized hand pumps for different applications.

     ●   The hand pump’s weight is also a critical measure for its suitability for your particular application. If you are going to be working out in the field where you will need to move the hand pump around, it is common sense that the pump will need to be light enough to carry. This is when an aluminum body is a better choice over a heavier steel body hand pump, even though it is more expensive.

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10. General Maintenance of Hydraulic Hand Pumps


Like all other tools, your hydraulic hand pumps will benefit from generous care and maintenance. When properly cared for, your hand pump can serve you for many years and repay your investment many times over. Here are a few hand pump use and maintenance tips to remember:

      ●   Keep the hand pump clean at all times, ensuring that the piston area is protected and that foreign fluids and materials are kept away

     ●   Use only the oil specified for the hand pump, and make sure the oil reservoir never runs dry

     ●   For valves that do not have pressure relief valves, be mindful to not exceed the load limit specified for the hand pump

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11. Hand Pump Manufacturers


There are many manufacturers of hand pumps. All the different hand pumps from these manufacturers may look different but the technology they use is essentially the same. That said, the quality of construction, including the materials used, separates the good from the bad quality hand pumps.

Power Team and Hytec are two of the leading hydraulic hand pump brands. Their hand pumps are marked by their strong build quality, reliability, serviceability, as well as ease of repair.

Power Team Hand Pumps

Power Team is a hydraulic tools brand owned by the SPX Flow Company. These hand pumps are sold and used in different applications all over the world. The brand markets one and two-speed hand pumps for use with hydraulic cylinders and tools. The two speed hand pumps are marked by a higher oil volume, which enables faster piston reciprocation for faster fluid transfer.

Hytec Hand Pumps

Hytec, also owned by SPX Flow, is a leading, Italian-made hydraulic tools and equipment brand that produces both single and double acting hydraulic hand pumps. Their hand pumps generate up to 350 bar of pressure and are specified for use in many different industrial applications.

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12. Glossary


Actuator - Is a hydraulic system component, like the cylinder, that provides the hydraulic power hand pumps use to produce the mechanical energy needed to power different tools and equipment. 

Auxiliary power - Is an alternative power source, like hydraulic pressure provided by hand pumps used in areas where grid electricity is not accessible or feasible to use with some tools.

Bar - Is a measure of pressure that is equal to 14.5psi (pound-force per square inch)

Check valve - this is a hydraulic control valve used to restrict fluid flow to one direction only.

Displacement - Is the amount of fluid a hand pump can move from the inlet port to the outlet with a single handle motion.

Double acting cylinder pump - Is a hand pump where the cylinder can apply pressure from two directions - the oil inlet and outlet ports.

Hydraulic hand pump - Is a hand pump that uses hydraulic actuators to generate the pressure needed to power different tools.

Pressure relief valve - Is a valve that relieves excess load pressure to ensure a hand pump is protected from damage by load weights that exceed the maximum allowed for it.

Single acting cylinder pump - Is a hand pump with a cylinder that can only apply pressure through an adjustment nob that controls flow in one direction only.

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