I took the plunge and moved up from manual uncapping with a knife to a Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper (the version that sits on top of an uncapping tank and you manually slide the frames across the steam heated v-blade.) (Cost $375 plus shipping)
Background: This year I expanded from 26 to 36 hives, and run all medium frames for harvesting. I work alone and mentally I'm "manually" oriented...generally starting with the most hands on approach first, then graduating to higher technology until it my needs are met. Past years I used an simple knife and 9 frame manual extractor. This year, in addition to the Lyson I also motorized the extractor (treadmill motor).
The Lyson: The system frame is designed to sit on an uncapping tank (I made my own). The frame is well constructed and heavy. The V-blade (attached to the frame) has 3 screw/spring adjusters for leveling and depth of blade. The slide (that holds the frame) is separate from the frame and is nice bright stainless steel. The steam source is a Wagoner Steam Wallpaper Remover (Any steam source would probably work). There is a an input hose that delivers steam from the Wagoner to the blade and an out put hose that goes to a collection bucket for the steam discharge. No instructions came with the system...but it is simple to set up (the Wagoner does have instructions, it comes just as it would from a big box store). The only setup issue I had was that the Wagoner hose fittings were different from those on the Lyson. I used simple clamp fittings to make it work.
Use: It takes 5-10 minutes for the steam to heat the blade. The honey frame is laid on the slide, pushed across the blade, flipped and run across again. As with any extraction, "shallow" wax areas on the frame must be scraped. But I found that it was convenient to scrape those areas while the frame laid on the slide. The system does a really nice job removing wax that extends out from the frame.
I have run more than 150 frames through the system and set-up and cleaned it twice. I can move through the uncapping process quickly...my extractor is now the bottle-neck. I can uncap at almost twice the rate as my extractor can process. Clean-up is easy, just take the frame and slide out and hose them off. To set-up again, just lay the frame and slide on the uncapping table, fill the steamer with H2O, and plug it in.
I'm happy with the purchase. Although still manual, it greatly increased my efficiency. Working alone, I also appreciate the ease of set-up and cleaning (I extract numerous times a year). Because it is essentially a flat frame storage will also be easy.
B52EW do you think that the steam will add any moisture to the honey while uncapping?
The steam travels enclosed within the blade...as long as the blade remains intact it should be no problem. I should also mention the blade is not knifelike sharp, nor is it stovelike hot...I thought those might be safety concerns prior to purchasing. I'm not concerned with slicing fingers (I find the uncapping fork to be much more perilous); and although I wouldn't recommend grabbing the blade when heated I've had numerous cases of incidental contact with no ill effect.