HAVING MILLER Electric Manufacturing Company's Wildcat 200 on our grain and livestock farm for six months gave me the same feeling that I had upon using my first mechanical-front-wheel-drive loader tractor. That feeling was, “Wow, how did I ever get along without having one of these?”

Miller's Wildcat 200 is a portable generator that powers a stick welder designed for job site applications. The Wildcat is powered by a 14-hp Subaru single-cylinder engine that purrs like a kitten until you shock it from standby idle to wildcat mode with the strike of an arc. The 6500W generator works great.

Time saver

The Wildcat arrived at our west-central Illinois grain and cattle farm for a performance evaluation. Prior to the Wildcat's arrival, I thought there would be no need for a portable welder on our farm beyond the emergency situations that a welding shop service call would not solve. Having some proficiency with the stick welder that sits in a corner of our shop was the impetus for my wanting to try the Wildcat.

A wet spring rained out my springtime outdoor Wildcat projects. Late in the spring, while I was planting furiously, the Wildcat made two time-saving service calls. A neighbor's field cultivator hit a washed-out area in a field and broke its transport wheel frame. I appreciated the Wildcat's 50-ft. cable length when crawling through a field cultivator that was unable to fold its wings. (Cables are sold separately.)

The next test for the Wildcat came when a ½-in. steel bracket broke on my corn planter. The bracket was small and could have been removed and welded at the welding shop 10 miles away. Instead I used a forklift to move the Wildcat onto the bed of my truck and headed to the field. Ahead lay a task of some high-amp welding repairs that would put me back in the tractor seat. The maximum setting for the welder is 200 amps. Amperage selected to repair my corn planter was 180. The ⅛-in.-dia. welding rods that I had were too small for that amperage and melted away, but as with many farm emergency repairs, “You go with what you've got.” All 14 of the Subaru's horses were gathered to help the Wildcat puddle some molten metal across the cracked steel. From under the welding mask, the Subaru sounded like a lawn mower cutting tall grass. That sound is one of constant determination to get the job done. The weld held. The field got planted with minimal downtime and I went home happy.

With two daughters who like to show cattle, I had the chance to take the Wildcat to the fair. My personal opinion is that showing beef cattle ought to have more of a semblance of a meat market and less of a semblance of a hair salon. Have you ever noticed how many appliances a hair stylist has plugged in? That is the way it is when showing well-haired breeds of cattle; you have a large need for electricity. The Wildcat's 20-amp circuit breakers on the 120v outlets would trip when two big fans and one cattle blower were running. The 240v outlet has a 30-amp breaker. I purchased a pigtail that will let me use 240v receptacles for 120v plugs. Now the Wildcat can power enough appliances to stand the hair up on our calves' necks, butts, and everything in between.

Features

The Wildcat can strike an arc or turn on an appliance with no hesitation. I did not check the output voltage, but tools appeared to run at the same speed and power level as they would have when running from the power grid. Noise level is acceptable. An exhaust turnout allows the operator to choose the direction that the welder discharges noise and exhaust gasses. Should the Subaru engine electric start fail, it also can be started by recoil start.

Pickup beds will still have plenty of available space thanks to the Wildcat's compactness. The smooth top surface of the Wildcat makes a handy place to set a welding helmet or a few welding rods. A center-mounted lifting hook is just the right size for a chain hook to disengage after setting the Wildcat where you want it. The owner's manual specifies that 6010 welding electrodes be used when welding at lower amperages. At higher amperages, the designated welding electrode is 7018. Having neither of those electrodes, I went off label and used 6013 and 6011 electrodes with great success. A strong instantaneous arc was achieved no matter what electrode was being used.

The only changes I would suggest would be to make the welding cable attachment points quicker and easier to connect and disconnect. The welding cables are attached using threaded studs with nuts that secure an eyelet connector. The Wildcat arrives with exposed welding cable lugs, but I chose to receive the protective covers that are offered as an optional accessory.

Both welding cables are 50 ft. long. A much shorter ground cable would serve my needs and give me less cable to trip over.

But these concerns are minor. If you like the “Wow, that's a nice machine” feeling that you get when you first use a machine that performs as billed, then get yourself a Miller Wildcat.

For more information, contact Miller Electric Mfg. Co., Dept. FIN, Box 1079, Appleton, WI 54912-1079, 920/734-9821, visit www.millerwelds.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin, or circle 101.