Rebuilding the Generator

If you’ve been to Peredo with HCO in the past six years, you know that our main source of power currently comes from a large diesel generator. Some of you have experienced being on campus when the generator was down or in need of parts. Some of you have painted scripture or a prayer station on the side the generator shed. And most of you will recognize the loud roar of the generator in the evenings!

That loud roar is all but a memory thanks to Justin and Cassie Faulhaber, the team from North Terrace CC (OH), Marcus, and some of our Haiti crew. In March, Justin, Cassie, and crew completely took the generator apart, cleaned and serviced it, and then rebuilt it.

Check out this oh-so-quiet video of the newly rebuilt generator!
Sometimes people are hesitant to serve on a mission trip. Maybe it’s because you don’t feel like you have the “right” skills or the “right” spiritual gifts. Maybe you don’t feel like you have anything useful to offer. It can be as simple as not knowing the needs enough to know you have exactly the skills God wants to use in a big way! Justin and Cassi have exactly the skills God wanted to use last month to greatly encourage us and bless our needs!

We asked Justin to share with us about how he, his wife, and his team completely rebuilt the generator (and repaired the 4-wheeler!) on their first trip with HCO:

First of all, this was an awesome trip! When Chris (Steele) asked us to go last August, my first response was no. Then after a few weeks, it was still lingering in my thoughts. We soon put our deposit down, and we were very blessed to raise enough funds quickly for both my wife, Cassi, and I to go.

Leading up to the trip, Chris told me that HCO had several vehicles that were needing some maintenance done. Then two weeks before we left, I was communicating with Cameron, Marcus and RoRo about the generator that was in need of an overhaul because it was using crazy amounts of oil. I was pulling my hair out, knowing how long parts could take to get. How we would get them into Haiti within a week?

God provided! I was able to get with a friend at a local John Deere dealer to track down a complete overhaul kit. He was able to place the order, and we had it in our possession 3 days before we left! Then, we were able to get a large discount on a big tool set to take with us! Finally on Saturday morning, we were at the airport, toting 50 suitcases amongst the 22 of us serving on the team.

Our first impression of Haiti was “Wow!” It only took a short amount of time to realize how friendly the Haitians are, always in a good mood and smiling or waving. On Saturday we were met on campus by RoRo, Eline, and Marcus. Sunday, after getting a coffee and watching my first Haitian sunrise, I walked up and met “Ruthie” (the nickname of the HCO generator) for the first time. Eager to get started and knowing the amount of work ahead, I could not wait for Monday morning.

Monday finally came. Cassi and I made our way to what would become our home – and the hangout for the many new Haitian friends we were about to make – in the week ahead. We made quick work of removing the accessories and cylinder head from the generator. Then things got interesting!

We used 2 tow straps, 2 bars, and what seemed like 30 Haitians to lift the engine block up and out of the generator. While continuing disassembly, the homemade sleeve puller made of 3/4″ all thread started to bend. God knew this would have been catastrophic for the project because the other 2 cylinders pressed out like butter. Next, we had a gasket scrapping party where Bob and Ted both helped clean all the parts before reassembly could start.

What would take me about an hour at work with air tools took almost an entire day due to the sheer build-up on the pistons around the oil control rings. I thought to myself: There’s no way this engine should have even been able to make enough compression to run.

After installing new bearings and crankshaft seals, we asked Marcus to get a couple of guys to help lift the engine block back into place. A few minutes later it seemed like a parade of Haitians were ready to help. After several stressful minutes, the block was mounted back in the generator!

On Thursday everything just fell into place so effortlessly. The new cylinders and pistons went together smoothly. We set the cylinder head back on and ran the valve adjustments. Then it seemed like everyone showed up and asked, “What can we do?” Within a couple of hours, we had all the components back on, and the generator was full of new oil and coolant. We were ready to start. Then, when Marcus hit the button, the starter just clicked and nothing. Knowing the starter had just been rebuilt (it took three days to rebuild), it didn’t seem likely we would get to see all the work we had completed actually work before we left. But, a couple of phone calls later, the starter was off to be rebuilt again.
Friday morning I was able to get the 4-wheeler running and the carburetors adjusted. Not long after, the Haitian mechanics showed up with a brand new starter! We quickly installed it, and once again we were ready to fire. After some quick wiring repairs due to a broken wire, I stepped back and Cassi and I stood together as Marcus hit the “start” button. The generator cranked over maybe twice and fired!

The fist pumping started, and the amount of appreciation we were shown by everyone there was overwhelming! The look of pure joy on all the faces was awesome. We saw how important something is that we use as a luxury – power – and what it means to them when the power is out. Throughout the week we can’t even begin to count the number of people who stopped in and (overcame some language barriers) to tell us “Good job” and “Thank you.”

When she fired, I felt like laying on the floor right there and going to sleep. The accomplishment of rebuilding an engine with limited hand tools in a foreign environment was unbelievable. God was definitely in the generator shack with us all week. This was the first time all week I did not want to go home. I feel that there is so much work that I could accomplish, alongside my wife and Marcus. What RoRo, Eline, Marcus, and Arin are doing for the Haitians is awesome! This is definitely the first of many trips we will be making to Haiti.

by Justin Faulhaber
Photos from North Terrace CC (OH) team

Wondering how God might use your skills to bless HCO and further the work He is doing through us? Check out our Short-term Trip blogs or contact us to explore how your skills match our needs!