Miller Bobcat 225 w/ Remote – First Impressions
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Recently I ordered the new Bobcat 225 for my new welding trailer. The remote start/stop feature was really appealing for a mobile welder like myself.
Using the small fob remote, you can start and stop the machine with the push of a button. This means that if you’re 100-200 feet away and you need a quick break from welding, you can stop the machine remotely.
This is especially handy for mobile welders that want to conserve their gas. Most of the time, we DO need the machine running to power our welds and our tools (angle grinders, drills etc.)
However, there are times during the workday where we must stop the machine quickly and efficiently. Talking to a coworker about a project detail, fitting up a piece of metal, taking measurements – these will all require the machine to be stopped to conserve gas.
This machine starts up so easily that it doesn’t even have a manual choke. On the previous models, you had to pull the choke before you turned on the start lever, and then push it in once the machine started. This newer model can be remotely started even in cold weather conditions. It has the same lever as before, so you can manually start it if that’s what you prefer (instead of the remote).
The Miller Electric “E-choke” technology allows for the easy starts in poor weather conditions. The choke is electronically controlled, so you don’t have to manipulate it yourself. The first time I tried to fire it up, it took a few tries to get the gas flowing. Now it starts every time with ease.
I bought the machine brand new this August (2020), and was very pleased with how these newer models look. With a full gas tank, they weigh about 585 pounds.
I drove to the FedEx warehouse to pick it up. We did do an inspection before I took it home, but there turned out to be a dent that I didn’t see during the initial inspection. This could be FedEx’s fault, or it could have been because I tightened the ratchet strap too much to secure it to the trailer. Oh well.
This model features a 100% duty cycle at 225 amps. This basically means that the machine can perform its max welding output for 100% of a 10 minute period. This makes it a solid work horse for structural sites and mobile applications. Burning 5/32” 7018’s will not tire the machine out at all (but it will eat some gas!)
Keep in mind that this is a huge upgrade for WM. Our previous engine drive was a Hobart Champion 145 which we reviewed as well. During the whole time owning that machine, I was eyeing the Miller Bobcat 225 for my next purchase. When they introduced the fob start, I pulled the plug and bought it.
The arc really does seem crisper than the Hobart, but the Hobart had a pretty great arc to begin with. The Bobcat definitely burns 6010 rods much better. The “whip and pause” motion of a 6010 rod can cause some machines to stop the arc prematurely. The Bobcat recognizes the 6010 arc and keeps up with it just fine.
One issue I have is that the fuel gauge is really hard to see through. It is plastic, but it’s the type that makes it hard to see the liquid inside. I really wish Miller would have used a clearer plastic (if possible) because often times you have to guestimate the fuel level. It will run for a full 12 hours without a problem, and will run up to 20 hours if you’re burning smaller rods (i.e. 3/32″).
Mounting the machine was relatively easy using the 4 holes provided. I centered the Bobcat over the trailer axle so I wouldn’t increase the tongue weight by much. Once the Ridgid box, tools, welder, and leads were installed, the trailer is still pretty darn heavy on the tongue. I used to be able to lift the trailer tongue to attach it to the 2” ball, but now I must use the trailer jack and back in perfectly with my SUV. This is really a pain if you don’t have a spotter, but i’m working on getting better at it.
The run/idle mode on this Bobcat model is pretty insane compared to previous models. With this mode, the machine fires up relatively loud, but then calms down to a soft “purring sound” after about 10 seconds. It will remain idling quietly until it senses an arc start or a tool being activated, and then it goes full throttle. This makes working in residential areas much nicer. The idling sound isn’t even as loud as a lawnmower, so working in the city is definitely doable.
You can also set the Bobcat to the “run” mode. With this setting, it will run at full speed all the time. This is great for powering heavier tools and higher amperage welds, but we prefer the run/idle mode much more. It is quieter and it conserves more gas.
The first job I had with it was welding on a thumb attachment for an excavator. Relatively straightforward job, but always be wary when welding on this type of equipment. Contractors will max out the load capacity on a regular basis.
The customer ended up maxing out the equipment by lifting a boulder that exceeded the weight rating. My weld started to crack but he admitted that it was his fault when he texted me. I offered to come fix it for free but I guess he found another welder. Oh well.
When he first called me he said that he only needed to weld an 8”x8” piece of steel. I wasn’t informed that I was actually installing the entire thumb until I showed up on the site. Very odd communication on his part. I should have used 5/32” 7018 rods – but like I said, I had no idea that I was welding the entire piece and I had to use the rods that I had.
Offering to fix it for free is a great way to build repertoire, but don’t get offended if a customer hires another welder. Contractors are tough to deal with anyways, be very cautious around them.
I paired the Bobcat with a set of 1/0 leads. This allows me to burn larger rods when needed. I went with 125 feet of ground lead and 125 feet of stinger lead. Though expensive, these leads paired with the Bobcat should provide reliable service for awhile. It is better to buy leads that are larger diameter – you never know when you’ll need to burn some big rods.
Coming in at over $2 a foot, 1/0 leads can get pricey. Paired with a ground clamp, Stinger V, and a set of Tweco connectors, you’re looking at about $800. The benefit of this is that you’ll be able to pull up to most jobs knowing that your leads will reach the work area. If you can’t reach the steel you want to work on, then you can’t complete the job.
This machine can run a MIG welder with ease, it can burn AC stick rods (on the alternating current mode) – (i.e. 6013’s), and run a traditional TIG welder or a scratch start TIG welding setup. This model can power any angle grinder or traditional power tool. With the (4) 120v outlets provided, you can run an array of tools no problem. The 240v receptacle is great for a MIG welder or multiprocess welder.
All in all, this Bobcat is a solid machine that is a perfect choice for mobile and structural welders. Although it is pricey for the average welder (making singlehand wages), it will pay for itself in a short amount of time. If you mount it on a truck, it will allow you to make money when you get a service call – no trailer involved. For now, we’re running the trailer since I love my 4runner too much. However, a truck is in the near future!