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Miller Stick Welder Provides Longevity

A vintage Miller Electric SRH-303 Stick power source has been through the wars-in fact, several of them-during a 29-year tour of duty at Ohio steel fabrication shops, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

Ralph Meeks takes great delight in recounting the assorted bumps, bruises and beatings inflicted on the SRH-303 over the years. Meeks is an operator in maintenance and fabrication at Worthington Machine Technology, a subsidiary of Columbus, Ohio-based Worthington Industries, Inc. Worthington, one of the country's largest steel processors, shapes and processes flat-rolled steel for automotive, appliance and machinery companies. Its subsidiaries make products such as pressure cylinders, metal framing and automotive panels.

"Back in 1981, I was working at a plant that was purchased by Worthington, and a couple of us were told to move the Miller machine to one of our other divisions," Meeks recalls. At that point, the SRH-303 was just six years old.

"We got the machine up on the back end of a one-ton truck, about four feet above the ground. On a one-ton, as the springs take the load the truck will go down in the rear end quite a bit. Well, the machine was on wheels and the other guy rolled it from one end of the truck to the other, and by the time he got it to the other end it kind of got away from him because the springs were beginning to give and the bed was on a definite slant," Meeks says.

"Bam! The machine lands in the middle of the parking lot," he says. "Four of us went out there, picked it up and set it back on its wheels. Knowing how heavy a welder is, things inside like the frame and fan can get bent. I told the guys, 'Well, we never even got started with that one.' But we took it in the shop, plugged it in and away she goes!"

And goes and goes. "For the last 23 years we've done nothing but arc air with that machine. When you arc air, you turn the amperage up, literally turning the machine almost wide open," Meeks says. "We arc air with that machine all day long on furnaces and such, and it still welds like a dream."

Maintenance and fabrication operator, Ralph Meeks, poses with the 29 year old Miller SRH-303 Stick power source.

The SRH-303 took another major hit a few years later. "We were repositioning a furnace cover that we had been repairing and we swung it over the welder, and guess what broke?" Meeks laughs. "Right over the top of the welder, and that thing just body-slammed the welder. I said, 'Well guys, after years of dropping it off a truck, hauling it around on fork lifts, carrying it from division to division doing weld jobs and repair jobs, and now dropping this furnace cover on it, I'd say we pretty well got her now'."

Guess again. "The furnace hit it so hard that it bent the main frame that supported the whole welder. We take the cover off of it, take a sledge hammer, beat the machine's cover out, put the cover back on the machine for safety-sake, plug it in and away she goes," Meeks says.

"That welder has been running under those conditions since 1975," he adds. "I don't know how Miller is still in business making them all like this. As far as I'm concerned, if it's not blue and doesn't have Miller on it, it's not worth fooling with."

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