What would you think if your phone rang and the caller informed you that you had won your choice of a Miller Bobcat 250 welder/generator or a combination Millermatic 212 MIG welder and Spectrum 625 plasma cutter?
Chad Schincke of Dakota Dunes, S.D., wondered if it was a scam to steal his identity. "I've entered lots of drawings, but I've never won anything
before,” he says.
"I said, ‘What drawing?'” says Zeke Dalton of La Sal, Utah. "Then I remembered my wife had signed me up.”
Schincke, Dalton and the third winner, Rick Zoern of Birnamwood, Wis., weren't dreaming, and the calls weren't hoaxes. Really they were grand prize winners in the Welding University drawing, so named because the prize includes welding equipment and an all-expenses-paid trip to Miller Electric Mfg. Co. headquarters in Appleton, Wis., to receive welding training from Miller experts.
The winners were chosen in a random drawing from 4,962 entries. Entry forms, consisting of a survey about an operator's farm and welding equipment, were provided in Farm Journal and on www.agweb.com.
Rugged welders. The visit to Miller headquarters included tours of the main plant and light industrial business unit. "Seeing the reliability testing conducted on Miller products gives me confidence in them,” says Dalton, whose typical welding tasks include repairing truck beds, building gates and working on irrigation pivots. "I had no idea how they beat and banged those things around!”
Dalton needs a welder/generator that can withstand long jarring rides over rough roads or no roads at all. "Reliability under rough conditions is very important to customers like me,” he says.
Most of the winners' time in Appleton was devoted to hands-on training that covered topics such as engine drives, engine maintenance, TIG and stick welding, MIG and flux cored welding, spoolguns for welding aluminum, and cutting with plasma cutters and oxyacetylene torches.
"I'm glad they talked about oxyacetylene,” Dalton says. "I discovered I had been making some mistakes. I learned how to set the equipment to make it work better and how to light the torch to make the tips last longer.”
Zoern, a professional welder before he decided on becoming a cattle and crop farmer, reviews a few of the points that were covered:
- Why there's a role for MIG, TIG and stick welding? "MIG is a much faster process, which is good if you're building something. It gives a cleaner weld and works on lighter materials than stick. It's the easiest to learn,” Zoern says.
"TIG can be used anywhere, but it's the best process for welding aluminum, stainless steel and lighter materials. Stick welding is good for making
repairs and welding out of position. It can handle dirtier material,” he adds.
What are the differences in plasma cutters versus oxyacetylene torches? "Oxyacetylene torches are cheaper, they can be transported and you don't need electricity,” Zoern says.
"Plasma cutters are faster, and they work better on lighter materials. They provide less heat, which results in less distortion of metal. They require only air and electricity—no fuel gas or oxygen tanks.”
Questions answered. Along with training, the instructors answered the winners' questions on hard-surfacing, gas mixtures for welding stainless steel, safety and welding rod selection.
"I always had just used 6011 and 7018 rods,” Dalton says. "I'll probably use some different rods now and do a better job of welding.”
Miller welding applications technician Justin Durik addressed a question about safety with welding gases. "The biggest concerns are when you weld galvanized steel and stainless steel or chrome-moly,” he said. "Always wear a respirator and have plenty of fresh air. But with any welding application, always work in a well-ventilated area, and don't breathe in the smoke.”
Schincke, who grows corn and soybeans with his father and brother, appreciated the safety discussions. "I learned you should always wear safety glasses under your welding hood as well as a bandanna on your head,” he notes.
Along the way, the winners got a close-up look at brand-new Miller equipment, including the Wildcat 200 welder/generator, a model that provides industrial-quality welding performance in a package weighing only 150 lb.—30% less than competitive models. It features up to 200 amps DC stick and TIG welding and up to 6,500 watts of peak generator power.
Which prize to choose? When it came time to select their prizes, Zoern and Dalton chose the Miller Bobcat 250 welder/generator. The machine produces 11,000 watts of usable peak power to handle multiple applications, such as plasma cutting, welding and motor starting, with one-third less noise than previous models.
Schincke chose the Millermatic 212 MIG welder and Spectrum 625 X-treme plasma cutter. The 212 now includes an auto-set for fast and easy setup, as well as infinite voltage adjustment. Its rated output is 160 amps at 24.5 volts of DC current (VDC), with a 60% duty cycle.
The Spectrum 625 features automatic control of the pilot arc, with automatic consumable detection to adjust gas pressure for optimum cutting performance and automatic air regulation to provide constant recommended torch pressure.
Dalton echoed the thoughts of many previous winners of the Welding University drawing, which is in its third year. "It definitely was the trip of a lifetime,” he says.
Watch the December 2009 issue of Farm Journal and www.agweb.com for information about next year's Welding University opportunity.
You can e-mail Darrell Smith at email@example.com.