Review of the Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper
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  1. #1
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    Default Review of the Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper

    Review of the Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper


    This is an accounting of my initial impressions of the Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper. This unit is available from Better Bee, SKU W20960. First, to put this review in context, a few details about my operation. I typically run approximately 60 colonies of honey bees, and given our local forage conditions, extract honey twice per year; once in the spring, and then after the cotton flow in late summer. In the past I have done all uncapping by hand using a cold knife. I work exclusively by myself, and work a full-time job, so the extraction process had reached a burdensome point a few years back. Iíve been searching for a good solution to the uncapping problem with the objective of bringing in some well-needed efficiency into my operation. My ideal uncapper would have been a Cowen Silver Queen but the cost for a sideline guy seemed extravagant, and besides, my operation couldnít fully utilize the capacity to justify the expense. Iíve looked at many alternatives to the Silver Queen, but none really grabbed me. In the winter of 2015-16, I saw that Better Bee was carrying a nice selection of Lyson equipment, and in particular the Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper seemed like a perfect fit for my operation. The risk of this purchase was that despite being well known in Europe, Lyson is still relatively unknown in North America. In addition to the lack of history, there were virtually no online demonstrations of this particular unit. Despite these issues, I decided to take a risk and buy the unit.

    I received the unit from Better Bee on June 10, 2016. The unit was packaged very well in a heavy-duty wooden crate. It was shipped via truck to my residence and arrived very quickly after purchase.

    The main system consists of three main components; a cutter system, an uncapping tank, and a steam generator.

    The cutter system consists of frame slides that hold the frames that are ready to be run through the knives, a pair of stainless steel serrated vibrating steam heated knives, and a chain-bar-lug system that lowers and pushes the frames through the cutter knives. All of these components are mounted to two vertical side plates. The side plates are made of a thick, non-metal material which seems to be more than adequate to support the various components. There are several adjustments on the cutter system including cutting depth and frame slide position to accommodate different size frames (Iíve run deeps, mediums, and shallows through the machine). The cutting depth is adjusted via allen screws that secure the blades to the vibrating shafts. The adjustments are pretty straightforward for anyone with mechanical aptitude. A 120vac motor drives the vibrating blades. All bearing have grease fitting for easy maintenance.

    The stainless steel uncapping tank is approximately 62Ēx22Ē (length x width) with more than adequate depth to accommodate deeps with a good deal of cappings below. The tank has two perforated removable trays to catch and drain the cappings. Below the trays is a tapered bottom that runs down the middle of the tank to a true bottom mounted drain. The drain is connected to a 1.25 inch, 316 stainless steel ball valve for draining the tank. The tank has four castors to ease moving the unit. Two of the four castors are lockable to keep the unit positioned. The transition from the cutter to the tank is accomplished by indexing the previously uncapped frame into the tank to allow space for the next frame.

    The steam generator is very simple; in fact, it is a Wagner Power Steamer that runs off 120vac. The steam generator will run approximately 1 hour per filling, perhaps longer. It takes about 20 minutes for it to come up to temperature after refilling. Overall, I did not find the steam generator to be an obstacle and any downtime could be utilized to accomplish other needed tasks. The steamer is connected to the knives with flexible tubing. The blades get quite hot, but never scorched the honey or discolored the blades. Iíve extracted my entire spring crop and the blades appear like new. The returned steam dumps into a plastic condensate bucket. Both the steam generator and the condensate bucket sit on a stainless steel shelf mounted below the uncapping tank.

    Overall impressions: I really like the unit. It is extremely fast at uncapping and once the cutting depth is properly adjusted it does an excellent job at uncapping frames. Overall, seems well built and should last a very long time.

    Strengths

    1. Build quality
    2. Ease of use
    3. Speed of uncapping. Frame throughput was amazing.
    4. Quality of the uncapped frame. Zero hand work was required on well-drawn frames. Poorly drawn frames did require a capping scratcher to get low spots.
    5. Ability to accommodate both wooden and plastic frames (also see weaknesses)
    6. Communication with Better Bee was excellent (point of contact was John Rath).
    7. Nice uniform depth uncappings, no tiny particles to clog screens.
    8. Cost ($2,425 + shipping). If you break this down, just the uncapping tank would cost around $800, which implies that the uncapper plus steam system would cost about $1625. I see this as a good deal considering the capability it offers.


    Weaknesses

    1. Very poor documentation was included. What little was included was poorly translated (I believe originally written in Polish) and difficult to follow. Although a mechanically inclined user will eventually get it tuned in, a well-documented and well-written manual would have been a nice addition.
    2. The plastic castors that allow the unit to be moved around seem undersized. I need to move the unit from a storage garage to my processing room across concrete, and Iím concerned on how these castors will fare over years of use. I can see replacing these with something more rugged.
    3. I did have to tweak the blade adjustments a couple of times to achieve consistent results. Perhaps this was related to a lack of experience with this unit, and poor documentation on the proper depth settings for the knives.
    4. The clearance between the floor and the drain valve is too little to permit a 5 gallon bucket to be placed under it. Not a big deal, but youíll need a different size pail to drain the tank.
    5. Although it will accommodate different size frames (shallows to deeps) and both plastic and wood, there are adjustments required moving between frame depths. Plastic frames did successfully make it through the cutters, but more careful monitoring was required to insure proper alignment was maintained. I suspect that this unit is best utilized when a single size (and single type) of frame is used. Wooden frames seemed to move through the cutter the best.


    I created a video review of the uncapper and it is available here:

    https://youtu.be/HB5E-o1ONmg

    One thing to note on this video; the part with uncapping honey was made very early in my experience with the unit. After I became more acquainted with its operation, the uncapping became faster. The video shows approximately 10 seconds per frame, but now it takes closer to 5 seconds per frame.

    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Review of the Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper

    Thanks very much. Still haven't decided but was going to drive over to see the uncapper, this saves me a trip. Looks good to me.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Review of the Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper

    Quote Originally Posted by camero7 View Post
    Thanks very much. Still haven't decided but was going to drive over to see the uncapper, this saves me a trip. Looks good to me.

    Glad it helped. Good luck with your decision. I'll gladly answer any questions you may have.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Review of the Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper

    Good review and video! With frames dropping as they move through the system have you had any break or come apart? I had a few full deep frames pop the bottom bar when gently dropped into a box this year.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Review of the Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper

    Nicely done Astro...Looks like pretty good value for the $$ and makes my sideliner look antiquated!! How was/is clean up??

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Review of the Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper

    Quote Originally Posted by yousowise View Post
    Good review and video! With frames dropping as they move through the system have you had any break or come apart? I had a few full deep frames pop the bottom bar when gently dropped into a box this year.
    I have not broken any frames. I was a little concerned about the plastic frames since their dimensions are slightly different than the wooden frames, but all went through without a problem. I think the manual feed helps in this case, since you're actively monitoring the feed and can sense the required force.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Review of the Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper

    Quote Originally Posted by Brandy View Post
    Nicely done Astro...Looks like pretty good value for the $$ and makes my sideliner look antiquated!! How was/is clean up??
    Thanks! I do think it is a good value and so far seems like a good fit for my operation. The only problem now is I might need a bigger extractor

    I really like that the wax comes off in sheets, similar to uncapping by hand. This permits you to screen the honey coming out of the extractor, without using a settling tank, at least at the rate I'm processing honey.

    Clean up wasn't bad, I wrapped the motor and associated electrical components in plastic and just sprayed it down with a hose. I didn't bother to fire up the steam to clean the blades. I'm assuming that the wax is a good protectant - at least I sure hope so.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Review of the Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper

    Very thorough review. Thanks. Any estimates on time saved and amount of frames you're doing? Like before it took 12 hours for x and now its x ?
    Terrence

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Review of the Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper

    That is a great review and youtube video. Thanks for you effort.

    The uncapper looks like a great value. I use an older slideliner. I would have much rather spend the extra money a purchased this unit

    My problem, after watching the youtube video, is I am already plotting how I could add a motor and do away with the crank and also extend the feed queue to allow for a 10 frame box to added, not a half of box. I don't see how this unit will not be a big hit among sideliners.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Review of the Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper

    Quote Originally Posted by kaizen View Post
    Very thorough review. Thanks. Any estimates on time saved and amount of frames you're doing? Like before it took 12 hours for x and now its x ?

    It is hard to give definitive numbers on the speed increase, but a guess would be that this uncapper is probably 10 to 20 times faster than my old way on of uncapping by hand (perhaps more). However, another key factor is relief from the boredom related to uncapping by hand. When doing it by hand it was something I dreaded, and it just seemed to last forever. I don't have that problem with this machine. Of course, and as mentioned by the commercial folks when asked for solutions, a fast uncapper then pushes the bottleneck downstream to another point in the process. As of now I'm very happy to be rid of an arduous task, but total end to end efficiency will require other more capable components.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Review of the Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper

    Quote Originally Posted by saltyoldman View Post
    That is a great review and youtube video. Thanks for you effort.

    The uncapper looks like a great value. I use an older slideliner. I would have much rather spend the extra money a purchased this unit

    My problem, after watching the youtube video, is I am already plotting how I could add a motor and do away with the crank and also extend the feed queue to allow for a 10 frame box to added, not a half of box. I don't see how this unit will not be a big hit among sideliners.
    Thanks. Lyson also makes a similar, but fully automatic version of the one reviewed here. From my understanding, the 2 biggest features this other units offers are: fully automatic frame feeder, and a closed loop water heater system instead of the steam. I do believe that the auto version is still limited to 5 frames in the feed queue.


    Here's a link to the fully auto version:
    http://www.betterbee.com/uncapping-t...-w2096000z.asp
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Review of the Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper

    Quote Originally Posted by AstroBee View Post
    It is hard to give definitive numbers on the speed increase, but a guess would be that this uncapper is probably 10 to 20 times faster than my old way on of uncapping by hand (perhaps more). However, another key factor is relief from the boredom related to uncapping by hand. When doing it by hand it was something I dreaded, and it just seemed to last forever. I don't have that problem with this machine. Of course, and as mentioned by the commercial folks when asked for solutions, a fast uncapper then pushes the bottleneck downstream to another point in the process. As of now I'm very happy to be rid of an arduous task, but total end to end efficiency will require other more capable components.
    Thanks. I'm more trying to gauge my expansion with equipment needed. I think I only did 40 frames this year and the fun of it has already worn off.
    Terrence

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Review of the Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper

    Have done roughly 100-150 frames this year so far and it's still fun but the bottling part is getting weary.
    Went thru hundreds of bears and still have several 5-gallon buckets to go.

    The uncapper looks fun but the price stings my eyes.
    Last edited by aunt betty; 07-22-2016 at 04:39 PM.
    Internet credibility is an oxymoron

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Review of the Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper

    very cool thread ab, thanks for putting it together. i would definitely consider upgrading to that unit if my operation ever gets expanded beyond the +/- 20 hives.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Review of the Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    very cool thread ab, thanks for putting it together. i would definitely consider upgrading to that unit if my operation ever gets expanded beyond the +/- 20 hives.
    Took me three or four times of misunderstanding that ab is not me to get that astrobee is ab.
    If I mess up and answer again...sorry.
    Internet credibility is an oxymoron

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Review of the Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper

    my bad aunt betty, it didn't occur to me, the pitfalls of laziness...
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Review of the Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper

    I am renting the service of a cooperative that has an automatic line of Lyson with an automatic uncapper and wax cap extruder exactly as seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0w08...e1PvkSz3HWzTmE.
    Three operators can easily extract about 50 or 60 supers in about 3 hours. By hand it takes me about 2 or 3 hours more and end up more tired and with a great amount of caps to deal with in the end of the day. The wax cap extruder is a huge help .

    Good choice Astrobee!

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Review of the Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper

    So Astro, are you still happy with the uncapper? Any more info to share. I really think it's my choice and after extracting this year I know I need something. Wish there was a cooperative like Eduardo has

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Review of the Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper

    Quote Originally Posted by camero7 View Post
    So Astro, are you still happy with the uncapper? Any more info to share. I really think it's my choice and after extracting this year I know I need something. Wish there was a cooperative like Eduardo has
    Sorry for the delay. Yeah, I knew I needed something for years leading up to this purchase.

    Not much new to report. I have some summer honey still sitting on the hives that I need to pull, so I may have an update soon. The thing that may be most useful in terms of maximizing the throughput of this machine is to use ONLY one type/size frame. I mentioned this in my review, but I emphasize that the feeder needs to be tweaked for every size and type (plastic/wood) of frame IF you want to run it using a full feeder. Currently I have a "mix and match" set of frames, some plastic, some wood and different heights (shallow, mediums, and deeps). This makes it challenging to use the feeder tray, because this is where the primary adjustments are needed for frame height. To avoid these repeated adjustments, I've decided to set up the feeder for mediums, which is the majority of my frames and NOT readjust for the other two heights. When I run deeps or shallows, I simply feed the frames one at a time. Honestly this is not a big deal. The frames need to be loaded anyway, so it is simply the sequence of motions that's different.

    The sequence with mediums is: LLLLL, CCCCC, LLLLL, CCCCC, etc

    The sequence with shallows and deeps is: LCLCLC, etc

    L=load frame into feeder.
    C=crank the handle to push the frame through the cutter.


    I'll try to post an update after I get my second crop off.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Review of the Lyson Manual Steam Uncapper

    Great review and video. I would consider it but just purchased a Maxant and used it for the first time. They seem to be a similar price. Each of these machines need adjustment. Maxant is hard on the frames. Thanks for the good work.

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