Many equipment repairs on the farm happen in the weeks leading up to harvest or during the quieter winter season. Taking advantage of these slower times and using them as an opportunity to complete equipment fabrication and repairs can be critical to help keep things running smoothly.
Completing necessary maintenance, repairs or modifications before the busy planting and harvest seasons can help reduce costly downtime caused by equipment breakdowns when they are most inconvenient. Equipment breakdowns can keep farmers from harvesting or planting crops and even endanger their safety.
Welding is a key part of many repair and fabrication projects on the farm, so it’s important to have versatile and reliable solutions that can meet a wide range of welding needs.
Farm and ranch needs
Downtime between busy seasons is a great time to prepare for the planting and harvest seasons — including keeping equipment, fences and structures in good shape on the farm.
Projects may include rebuilding a trailer hitch, fixing a broken axle or spindle, repairing a broken fence line or adding rows to a corn planter for greater capacity and efficiency. For all of these tasks on the farm — and many more — a welder or an engine-driven welder/generator are important tools.
Downtime between the busy seasons is also a good time to check over tools and equipment for wear. Another benefit of fixing these issues during the slower months is that it helps avoid emergency repairs that may have to be completed in the field rather than in the shop.
Farmers who purchase used equipment may also find it necessary to make repairs by welding. Perhaps a hitch is bent or broken, for example. Having a welder on site ensures that repairs can be made quickly and at a lower cost than taking the equipment elsewhere. Purchasing a less expensive used item — and having the ability to make any repairs yourself with welding equipment — can help farmers save money and avoid buying new equipment in some cases.
Even new equipment may require some welding. It’s not uncommon for farmers or ranchers to make modifications to new equipment so that it meets their specific needs. When equipment is underbuilt, farmers can use welding to strengthen that piece of equipment to their specifications. One example is a farmer who adds rows to his corn planter so it matches the number of rows on a larger combine. The farmer can order the parts and weld them to the planter to extend the planter rows.
In another example, a farmer with a round bail feeder fabricated new feet for the piece of equipment. The feet original to the piece were basically tubing bent into a U-shape that wore over time due to use and moisture. To extend the life of the feeder and get additional strength in the feet, the farmer fabricated new feet out of flat 1/4-inch stock. Preventive maintenance and fabrication can also be performed on new equipment, to ensure the necessary strength and long equipment life.
Versatile tools for many jobs
Welding repairs on the farm can be diverse, but no matter the maintenance or repair need Miller Electric Mfg. Co. has solutions to help get the job done right.
Many farmers and ranchers on small- to mid-size operations are typically welding steel in their repair and fabrication projects, but because different applications sometimes call for different welding processes, selecting the right welder for your operation is important.
The most common welding processes used for fabricating metals are stick welding, MIG welding, flux-cored welding and TIG welding. Note that MIG and flux-cored welding are both wire processes that can typically be performed by the same machine, while TIG machines can usually perform stick welding, as well.
The Millermatic® 211 is a good option for light fabrication and farm and ranch applications, with the ability to weld material from 24-gauge to 3/8-inch thick in a single pass. It runs on either 120 or 240 volt input power, and weighs 38 pounds. The advanced Auto-Set™ feature offers quick and easy setup, with five different wire/gas combinations and capability for 0.024-inch, 0.030-inch and 0.035-inch wires.
Another smart solution for farmers and ranchers, especially when they often face a variety of jobs where multiple processes are required, is the Multimatic™ 200, a versatile, all-in-one multiprocess power source. This machine weighs only 29 pounds and can run on either 120 or 240 volts for MIG, TIG and stick welding. The Multimatic 200 offers capacity for MIG welding on 24-gauge to 3/8-inch thick steel and 18-gauge to 3/8-inch thick aluminum, with TIG welding capacity for 0.020 to 3/16-inch steel.
Farmers should also consider a portable engine-driven welder/generator solution that can provide more versatility for repairs in the field — away from the shop. Often wagons, tractors, combines and other farm equipment break down in the field or on the road, and they cannot be easily transported back to the shop for immediate repair. A portable welder/generator comes in handy in these situations, so repair and fabrication can be handled where it is needed.
A welder/generator can also help meet power generation needs in the field, running tools, lights and other items on the farm or in the field when you are away from a building with power.
The Bobcat™ 250 welder/generator provides multiprocess welding capability for stick, MIG, flux-cored and TIG welding, while at the same time providing 10,500 watts of power for lights or virtually any other tools needed in the field. The electronic fuel injection (EFI) option also provides fast, easy starts no matter the climate.
The Trailblazer® 325 is another engine-driven welder/generator from Miller that is a good option for farmers and ranchers who need more advanced welding capabilities. Offering unbeatable arc performance, superior runtimes and increased fuel efficiency, no other compact machine in the 300-amp class delivers more welding power or more auxiliary power with better fuel efficiency and less noise.
Another option, the Blue Star® 185, is a great solution that provides outdoor power for farm, ranch, maintenance and hobbyists. Compact and portable, the machine has a small footprint and is lightweight, so it takes up little truck space and is easy to move around. In addition, weld and generator output exceed all other machines in this class, helping ensure maximum performance throughout the work day.
Many options for farm and ranch needs
Many farmers and ranchers likely share similar challenges and needs when it comes to repairs, maintenance and modifications on the farm. To help meet these needs, they need portable, versatile and easy-to-use welding equipment.
Fabrication and repair work often happen away from the shop, in the field at all hours of the day. Many farmers also must be self-reliant when emergency repairs spring up, especially if they live some distance from the nearest welding shop.
The good news is that welding technology advancements have made many machines more portable, versatile and convenient to use than ever. This helps farmers and ranchers complete fabrication and repairs themselves, so they can get back to work faster — and be up and running when planting and harvest seasons come.