The Lyman Cyclone

By Dean Roxby

This Rotary Tumbler Gets Your Brass Clean with Little Dust

If you appreciate the look of bright, shiny brass cases for reloading, then consider getting the Lyman Cyclone rotary tumbler case cleaner. This thing really works! Aside from the cosmetic value of shiny cases, there is a possible safety advantage to tumbling with stainless steel pins as well. The old vibratory case cleaners are notorious for producing dust. Most of the dust is dirt, powder residue and the dry media itself. But a small percentage of the dust will be lead from the lead styphnate primer compound as noted in the book, Making Ammo: A Beginner’s Guide to Handloading, by Kyle Lynch (reviewed by this author in SAR V21N4, May 2017). As SS tumbling is a wet process, there is no dust produced, although there is some murky looking water.

I was surprised at just how well the Lyman Cyclone unit polished my cases after only one hour of tumbling. For years I have used a vibratory case cleaner filled with crushed walnut shells as part of my reloading process. While the old walnut-shell (or crushed corn husks) type of cleaner does an adequate job, it certainly does not compare to the Cyclone. The Cyclone uses tiny stainless steel pins to scrub both the exterior and also the interior of each case. And if you resize and de-prime the cases first (the enclosed manual suggests doing so), the pins will also partially clean the primer pocket. As a test, I cleaned some 577/450 Martini-Henry cases that were filthy with black powder residue. My old vibratory cleaner could not get them clean, but the Cyclone shined them up perfectly.

The system consists of the motorized drive base, the drum that holds the cases and pins, the stainless steel pins that do the cleaning, a small sample of cleaning solution and two Dual Sifter pans. The drive base has a built-in timer that allows you to dial in any length of time between one minute and 180 minutes. This is a handy feature, although the instruction manual does warn against leaving it running unattended.

The unit has a very solid feel to it, with the base being heavy enough that it does not go skating around during operation. The drum is lined with rubber, in order to reduce the sound produced. It does make a dull drone, but it is not an annoyingly loud or sharp clatter like a vibratory unit produces.

It seems Lyman must be planning on selling these worldwide, as they have several options for the power cord. Depending on the location sold, it will come with either a 115V cord or several versions of a 230V cord (North American, UK or Australian standard).

The manual mentions the capacity as approximately 1,000 .223 cases at a time.

They suggest that it not be overfilled beyond about half of the total internal volume, as overfilling tends to reduce the effectiveness of the cleaning action. I was surprised at how dark the water and cleaning solution were the first time I used it. This was after doing about 200 .30-06 cases for only one hour.

After tumbling, the cases and pins need to be separated. This is where the dual sifter trays come into play. By dumping the contents of the drum out into the two trays stacked upon each other, the cases, pins and dirty water are separated from each other. The upper tray is like a food colander with openings large enough to let the pins fall through easily, yet hold back the cases. The lower tray has a fine mesh screen that allows the water to pass but catches the pins. A quick rinse with clean tap water removes any remaining solution. The cases then can be set aside to dry. During the rinse, I make sure no pins remain inside the cases by tapping or rattling them together. This part is a bit more work than the old vibratory to be sure, but the end result is worth the effort.

Incidentally, the type of stainless alloy used is magnetic (not all stainless alloys are magnetic), so if you happen to spill hundreds of tiny pins, you can use a magnet to collect them easily. I haven’t yet, but it is nice to know in advance!

I wondered about using this with Berdan primed cases. I generally do not bother to reload Berdan cases, but I do have a lot of Berdan primed Swiss 7.5x55 ammo. As Berdan priming uses two small flash holes, rather than one large flash hole with Boxer primers, I wanted to be sure I did not get the tiny pins lodged in the holes. A quick check confirmed that the Swiss brass uses holes that are smaller than the pin diameter, so there is no chance of getting stuck as they will not enter the holes.

As for cost, the Lyman website shows a price of $230, but it can be found for much less at various retailers.

See www.lymanproducts.com/brands/lyman/turbo-tumblers/cyclone-rotary-tumbler.html for more information.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N8 (October 2017)
and was posted online on August 18, 2017


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