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Maintenance Tips for a Welder-Generator

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Today’s guest post is by Nate Jochman, Mechanical Engineer – Power Products Group for Miller Electric Mfg. Co.

While many users of Bobcat and Trailblazer products enjoy Miller’s industry-leading product durability and reliability, regular engine maintenance of engine-driven welder generators helps keep these products running strong for years to come.

Bobcat 200 Airpak

Regular maintenance varies depending on whether your engine-driven welder generator has a gasoline-fueled Kohler engine or a diesel-fueled Kubota engine.

Oil Maintenance for Welder-Generators

Kohler-powered Bobcats and Trailblazers offer the convenience of readily available gasoline and their air-cooled design simplifies maintenance because no separate cooling system is present. This minimizes the number of items on the maintenance checklist.

However, since the oil in an air-cooled engine acts not only as a lubricant, but also a coolant, the importance of maintaining oil level and changing the oil and filter at regular intervals is critical. Checking the oil level before starting the engine is good practice.

Today’s industrial air-cooled gasoline engines are a far cry from the simple lawn mower engines of the past. With full pressure lubrication, automotive style valve trains and spin on oil filters, the oil systems are designed not only for durability, but it is also fairly easy to change the oil and filter.

Coolant Levels for Welder-Generators

Welder generators with the Kubota diesel engine have the most durable engine components but the liquid cooling system does occasionally need attention. Be sure to check coolant levels regularly and follow product specific procedures if the system needs to be drained or filled.

Outside of maintaining proper coolant level, checking the radiator for clogging or debris is the only other regular maintenance item required. Cleaning with high-pressure water should be done with care as to not to get too close to the radiator fins.

How to Track Maintenance for Welder-Generators

Now that we understand the importance of regular oil and filter changes, it is important to note that Trailblazer and Bobcat products are designed to make both tracking and performing the task easy. Tracking your products maintenance schedule is easy with the maintenance interval feature built in to the hour meter function.

With the Bobcat, this feature is integral to the hour meter/fuel meter display and a wrench icon appears when an oil change is due. On Trailblazer products, (with the engine off) turning the ignition switch to the RUN/IDLE position shows a countdown to your next service interval with a negative number indicating service is past due. On both products, it is important to reset the service interval feature after performing service to keep the numbers accurate. For a more detailed description of these features, refer to your products owner’s manual.

Fuel System Maintenance in Welder-Generators

Maintaining fuel systems in gasoline engines is important since clogged filters can cause running issues and the usable life of today’s ethanol packed gasoline is only a few months. Filter clogging is a function of fuel cleanliness and so many users that fill from above ground storage tanks or from small carry cans may see excessive dirt in their fuel tank. This leads to clogged fuel filters that will reduce fuel flow and cause engine performance issues.

Regular fuel filter changes will go a long way in preventing unwanted engine performance issues down the road. The fuel injectors on the Kohler EFI engine require cleaner fuel and thus a fine filter is present on EFI products. This fine filter may need more frequent replacement if the quality and cleanliness of the fuel used is poor.

If your engine driven welder-generator sees minimal use for months at a time, carbureted engines will benefit from the addition of a fuel stabilizer. The stabilizer will help prevent varnish build up in the carburetor bowl that occurs when the fuel in the bowl vaporizes over time. Kohler EFI powered welders do not have issues with periods of storage since the electronic fuel injection system does not expose the fuel in the engine components and so no evaporation or varnish build up can occur.

Maintaining Diesel Engines for Welder-Generators

Diesel fuel systems benefit from larger filters and no fuel vaporization concerns, however cold weather can cause some grades of diesel fuel to gel. Gelling of diesel fuel is dependent on the amount of wax present in the fuel and the amount of wax is dependent on what temperature the fuel is intended to be used in.

Most fuels in the United States do contain wax and are treated with anti-gel when cold weather abounds. New diesel engines require very fine fuel filters to protect engine components and to meet EPA Tier 4 regulations. These new filters may still capture some of the wax particles and with enough run time; prevent fuel from passing through the filter. In this rare scenario, Miller recommends the cold weather kit which includes a block heater and fuel heater.

Spending a little extra time to make those regular checks on your Miller Bobcat or Trailblazer will go a long way to keep your machine performing as good as new for years to come.

About Today’s Guest Blogger

Nate Jochman serves as a mechanical engineer for the power products group at Miller Electric Mfg. Co. During his eight years at the organization, Jochman has spent his time designing gas and small diesel engine-driven welder/generators. He was a significant contributor to the innovations that improve fuel economy and reduce sound and size — all features and benefits welding operators will experience using the latest offerings by Miller.

Ed Cyzewski


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