Last fall Farm Industry News gave me the opportunity to test the Miller Bobcat 250 welder/generator and the Millermatic 140 MIG welder with the auto-set feature. Miller also provided me with the Pro Hobby auto-darkening welding helmet.
My operation consists of a beef feeding, cow/calf, and cropping operation in southwestern Minnesota. I have always thought it would be nice to have a portable generator to run a stick welder because we generally have gates or a bunk post to fix or some type of welding to do during harvest. I currently own what is commonly referred to as the “buzz box,” a simple 220v AC stick welder. I was told that DC welding is an easier and smoother way to weld, so I was eager to try the Bobcat 250.
The machine has an easy electric start, 23-hp Kohler engine. Welding with the Bobcat 250 and a Hobart 6013 rod in DC was very nice and smooth. I found it easier to strike an arc and keep it going with the DC setting than what I normally experience with the AC welding.
The machine is very clean and simple to operate. A loop-type hook in the middle top of the machine makes it easy to carry or put in the back of a pickup truck. There are covers for the terminals where the leads connect to the machine with an opening at the bottom for the lead to rest in, which allows the cover to be closed while the leads are connected to the machine. A quick-attach coupler is available for the leads so that the operator doesn't have to use a wrench to take the leads off when the machine is not being used for welding.
The generator feature of the Bobcat 250 has four 115v outlets to run a grinder, drill or lights. This machine could run anything that you would plug into an outlet on the wall in your shop. With 11,000W of power, it also has the capability of operating equipment needing 220v. The Bobcat also has settings to weld AC and run a MIG and TIG machine.
The Millermatic 140 with the auto-set feature is a 115v machine and is small and light enough to put in the back of your pickup along with the Bobcat 250 for welding on lighter gauge metal that might burn through with the stick. It is easy to switch from solid wire to flux core for in-the-field welding. It is easy to change polarity. The push and turn feature on the wire feed spool makes it simple to change wire size because flux core is thicker than solid core. The flux core does not work with the auto-set feature. However, with a minimal amount of experience and after reading the welder guide for setting wire speed and voltage, you will not have any problem welding without auto-set.
The auto-set feature of the machine works well, especially when you know what metal thickness you are working with. Miller included a thickness gauge with the machine. I just set the parameters on the dial and I didn't need to guess the setting for wire speed and voltage. The auto-set feature is something that appeals to me as a beginner.
When you bring home a new Millermatic 140, you can pull it out of the box, install your wire, plug it into the wall and start welding. The Millermatic 140 is probably a little small for use as your primary general-purpose welder on the farm, but in this case it was a nice complement to the Bobcat 250.
The auto-darkening helmet is a must. You can actually see what you are doing before you start welding rather than guessing where your arc is going to start. It is well worth the extra expense, especially if you are a beginning welder. The helmet is easy to turn on and it shuts itself off automatically. It offers different sensitivity and shading.
Suggested retail prices start at $4,257 for the Bobcat 250, $809 for the Millermatic 140, and $159 for the Pro Hobby auto-darkening welding helmet. Miller notes that actual retail prices will vary from these manufacturer suggested retail prices.