Welding Wisdom

August 26, 2011 11:29 PM
Welding Wisdom

Miller Welding University awards three farmers with trips, tips and prizes

It was quite the birthday present for Republic, Ohio, farmer Duane George when Farm Journal called to say he was the grand-prize winner in the 2011 Miller Welding University Contest. Two other winners, Doug Dulmage of Leeds, N. D., and Joe Hoffman of Osmond, Neb., joined George for an all-expenses-paid trip to Appleton, Wis., to receive instruction from the pros at Miller Electric Mfg. Co.

The two-day event kicked off with a tour of Miller Electric world headquarters. "We are proud to say that our products are all made in the U.S.," says Chris Wierschke, product manager for the Bobcat and Trailblazer lines.

When it was time to head to the welding labs with the Miller welding engineers, the three farmers were ready with questions from the farm.

"I took my welder out of its box and just taught myself how to operate it," Dulmage says. "I want to learn proper technique and the tricks of the trade."

Tips to try. The first hands-on demonstration was stick welding. "People call the 6013 welding electrode the ‘farmer’s rod’ because it’s forgiving and easy to run," says Amanda D’Arcy, welding engineer. "No matter what electrode you are using, it’s best to remove surface impurities [paint, rust or dirt] and take the slag off of your weld, especially if you’re welding multipass."

The most popular Miller product is the Millermatic all-in-one MIG welder line. MIG welding works on most metals, but, overall, the weld bead should be twice the thickness of the material. Whether using self-shielded wire or gas-shielded wire, match the polarity.

"When polarity is wrong, your bead looks wrong," says Jon Ertmer, marketing manager for integrated MIG. "With gas-shielded solid wire, use a push tech-nique, as it flattens the bead out. With a self-shielded flux core wire, drag. The way to remember is ‘when you have slag, drag.’ "

Hoffman says he wanted to learn how to effectively weld aluminum with the Spoolmate 200 Series spool gun he took home as part of his prize package. "We work a lot on our center pivots, and there are aluminum components that we have to repair," he says.

Engineer John Granato says that when welding aluminum, you need to use 100% argon gas. He also suggests starting with 4043 aluminum wire.

The three farmers got to test drive TIG welding equipment and techniques. The biggest advantages of TIG welding are precision, a smaller heat-affected zone and the ability to weld materials thought to be unweldable.

Farmers are familiar with oxy-fuel cutting, but there are benefits to plasma cutting. Hoffman uses plasma cutting when fabricating knives for his anhydrous bar, cutting a three-day job to one.

"Anything that conducts electricity, steel, stainless, aluminum, even cast iron, can be cut with plasma," says Steve Hidden, product manager, plasma products. "The key is knowing your plasma cutter’s limits with the thickness of the metal. The more amperage available, the thicker the cut."

Miller launched a new line of welding gloves, and the Welding University attendees got to try them before they were released to the public.

In addition to welding know-how, the three farmers took home their choice of Miller products. Dulmage will take an older Bobcat model he owns and use it as the household backup generator while installing his new Bobcat 250 welder/generator on his farm service truck. Before Welding University was over, George had several projects in mind that he wants to tackle with the Spectrum 625 X-TREME plasma cutter he took back to the farm along with a Millermatic 212 Auto-Set with MVP MIG welder and Spoolmate 200 Series spool gun.

Win Your Own Trip

There are three ways to enter to win the latest welding tools and training at the 2012 Welding University: win the "I Built the Best" contest, win the $100 Ideas contest or fill out a survey at www.FarmJournal.com.


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