Lyman Cyclone Rotary Tumbler
- By Chris Parkin
- 0 Comments
- Last updated: 19/05/2017
Case tumbling is a task for reloaders to consider but the time and effort they want to expend and the results they wish to achieve are fairly linearly related. More effort in, gets cleaner cases out, but are you willing to do the work?
The Lyman Cyclone Rotary Tumbler takes brass cleaning to a whole new level, which certainly suits those wanting cases absolutely ‘as new’ and perhaps those wanting to anneal too. The rotary tumbling action, combined with stainless steel pins in a liquid cleaning solution, gets brass clean on the outside just like vibratory tumbling methods using walnut or corncob but with slightly less shine. Critically, inside the case is a different matter entirely, as the tiny pins tumble around in combination with the solution, grating away the carbon build up and powder residue that cakes onto the inner walls of the brass, and then gently washes it all away.
These pins slip inside primer pockets, something that vibratory tumbler will not do and unlike corncob, won’t stick in the flash hole but I personally want to be very sure that when I rinse the cases after three hours in the machine, that every single steel pin is out; I would not want one mistakenly left inside my rifle. Corncob may be inconvenient but I wouldn’t like to speculate what a pin would do if left inside a live case.
The large drum will hold up to 1000 .223 cases and correspondingly fewer larger calibre ones. A rubber lining reduces noise during operation, which can be set with a builtin timer for up to three-hours, shutting off automatically when done. All cases can be poured into and out of a rubber sealed screw cap on the drum, which is supported on two rubber rollers that turn it for agitation. A pair of mesh sifter pans are supplied to wash and filter out pins from the cases; it is easier than I expected to separate the virtually ‘fluid’ media solution with gentle swirling, enabled by two generous handles. Given the 5lb weight of the pins (0.9mm diameter x 6.9mm long), the pin sifter does seem a little delicate, and I was very careful when handling it to avoid tearing the mesh from the polymer rim but never encountered actual problems. I wouldn’t leave them unsupported, though, as I dumped the full drum into one. A bottle of citric acid cleaning solution to mix with plain tap water is supplied and volumetric ratios between 40 and 20-1 are suggested, depending on how heavily soiled your cases are. All the inky black water will drain straight off leaving the two trays slotted together with brass in the top one and pins below.
After three-hours of continuous but fairly quiet ‘grumbling’ operation, I removed the 100 x .243 cases from the beefy plastic drum and poured everything several times through both sifters into a larger Tupperware basin. I didn’t want to lose any pins and, on the other hand, I wanted to ensure that all my cases were completely empty. If you do drop them, they are quite tricky to pick up with anything other than tweezers or a magnet, so be careful. Leaving things to air dry after a couple of rinses with more tap water will dry everything out but be sure to stand the cases up so that you don’t get air locks that hold water pools inside each. I tumbled a variety of primed and de-primed cases, as I want to see the difference in primer pocket cleaning versus regular corn cob vibratory tumbling and the Cyclone was far superior but the cases don’t receive the same shiny polish vibratory tumbling gives. Plain water air drying leaves water marks on the cases but some like to use filtered, deionized or distilled water for the rinse to alleviate this.
I halved a couple of cases and was pleased with the level of cleaning shown, although after three-hours of tumbling around with 5lbs of steel, the metallurgist in me would have loved to see if the cases had significantly work-hardened versus regular media. Cleanliness was without doubt and there were pros and cons towards further processing of the brass in the reloading schedule I adopt.
I tend to spray lube my cases, re-size and then dry tumble to remove the dirt and lubricant residue, it’s just my system and we all differ. I must manually clean primer pockets, which the Cyclone will do for you, I also have to remove corn cob from flash holes, which isn’t an issue here with 0.9mm diameter pins. The flip side to this is that, after three-hours of dry tumbling, I’m done, three-hours of wet tumbling needs a fair amount of swishing and swilling around and then hours of drying. The cases are cleaner, but that is your choice because to some, reloading is a passion of its own, to others a mandatory chore. It makes no odds to me to tumble 20 cases or 100 in a corn cob vibratory unit but with a wet pin tumbler like the Cyclone, I wouldn’t turn it on for less than 2-300 minimum. There is also the ongoing cost and effort of solutions and water (distilled) to add to this.
If you want cases to look like new, the Cyclone really does it but you must decide if the process suits your needs. I find it takes longer and reloading is a chore, not a joy for me.
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