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Old 04-09-2003, 03:50 PM   #1
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hensley-arrow hitch

Just received Hensley hitch. How hard is it really to install by yourself?
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Old 04-09-2003, 04:58 PM   #2
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It isn't... at all.

First look at the curbside of the tongue and see if the gas line is held up to the bottom of it by clamps riveted to the tongue. If it is, drill the rivet heads out so the gas line can drop down. Once the plates for the U-bolts are in place, you can reuse the clamps with longer screws in spacers, or support the line with something between the ends of the U-bolts. Just keep it below the plates.

Second, if you have those stainless steel covers on the tongue, drill out the rivets holding them and remove them. The U-bolts won't be able to grip the tongue firmly enough with the covers on (Phil advised me to remove them but I had to try it with them and found he was correct).

Third, DON'T OVERTIGHTEN the shear bolts when you get to that point of installing them. They can strip the hole in the tongue. They don't need to be tight... the u-bolts hold the bracket in place... the shear bolts just add a measure of help to keep them from sliding, and are intended to shear if a turn gets too tight.

Fourth, you don't absolutely HAVE to have the hitch mounted on the drop bar in the tow vehicle and back up the ball to the coupler. I used a big floor jack to raise the hitch up to the trailer tongue and mounted it without the tow bar or truck.

Fifth, you can't use too much grease when installing the spring bars. If they don't want to go up and lock because of grease in the bushings, remove the hex head bolt below the bolt with the zerk fitting so grease and air can escape.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head. If you get stuck, just post a question. Several of us here have done it.
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Old 05-18-2003, 09:01 PM   #3
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Don't really think anybody needs to spend the money for an expensive hitch like the HA. I,ve got an equalizer brand hitch at about 450.00 dollars and pull a 34 ft. Ex. 1000 FK with a GMC c3 truck without any trouble at all .Have pulled it from west to east and back.
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Old 05-18-2003, 09:40 PM   #4
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Hensley - Worth The Money?

I need to purchase a new hitch to tow my 79-31' AS. I know that there are a number of AS'ers that have the HH and everyone that does (be is AS or SOB) seems to love them. I am having trouble convincing my wife that it is worth shelling out $3000 for a hitch when we normally spend no more than $500 for one (we haul our horses in a 3 stall slant with a modified Reese with equalizer bars - short distances of 150 mi round trip). I haul the trailer with a Ford Excursion 4WD with a V-10 so the tow vehicle is more than adequate. I am interested in hearing from those with and without HH's. At this point I don't tow long distances (a hundred miles at most) and have not had any white knuckle experiences on the highway but I would like to take the kids on longer trips. Is it just a matter of time before my towing luck runs out and a speeding semi causes the trailer to sway or is there a cheaper, viable alternative to the HH and what it has to offer. Montanaandy
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Old 05-18-2003, 10:57 PM   #5
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My take on the necessity of a Hensley

In all the unit rallys I have attended, I have seen just one Hensley, a visitor.

At the Region 9 Rally in Harlengen, with hundreds of Airstreams you could count the Hensleys on your fingers.

At the Airstream park in Zavalla, I walked every street and saw 2 Hensleys, one a visitor and one resident. These are mostly full timers with large trailers, a lot of whom migrate north seasonally.

At the Airstream park in Oklahoma, I saw nary a one. Again, largely full timers.

On the road, spotting Airstreams, I have never seen a Hensley. Hard to miss with the red color.

I have seen several Airstreams with Equalizer brand hitches, one with a Blue Ox, and dozens with Reese dual cams. Most seem to use a simple friction sway bar, a small number had provision for 2 friction sway bars. One person in our unit has the ball for a second friction bar, but I have only observed him with one bar mounted.

A friend has towed a 34-footer for years, all over the lower 48, Canada, Nove Scotia and Alaska with a simple friction bar which he never puts on except for interstate travel. When I questioned this, he reported absolutely no sway problems.

Doubtless, the Hensley has admirable qualities, but what I see on the road and in Airstream parks firmly convinces me that, with a suitable tow vehicle, it is totally unnecessary to spend that kind of dollars on a hitch.

I calculate that the Hensley patents have expired or will expire very soon. Maybe there will be some price competition down the road. better yet, maybe someone will implement the concept without an extra 100# of flubber.
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Old 05-18-2003, 11:59 PM   #6
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I have been hauling my 1967 27-foot International with a simple Equalizer hitch and one simple sway bar on Interstates and backroads for the past 16 years and have demonstrated to myself time and again why I love those rigs so much: the stability on the road.

My first tow vehicle was a 1976 Ford sedan, and the present one is a 1996 Ford F250 diesel, and the only real sway I have ever felt towing the International was allowing my wheels to hit the curb in the narrow, curving and (after being in intense sunlight) darkened tunnel on the way to Zion...the only damage was a broken mirror on the tow vehicle from hitting the tunnel wall. With that one exception, which I can only blame on myself, old eyes and a Model T sized tunnel, I have never, ever felt any alarming sensation relating to sway no matter how high the wind or how large and fast the passing trucks.

I think the original design of the Airstream has proven over the past 70 years or so to be brilliantly conceived and still unsurpassed. Short of doing something silly, like towing with a broken axle, lead stored in the upper cabinets or carrying a Harley on the back bumper, swaylessness is the rule with an Airstream.

Long Live Airstream!
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Old 05-19-2003, 06:53 AM   #7
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Of 8 Airstreams in the Terra Port this weekend, half had Hensleys.

I've been driving cars and riding motorcycles for nearly 40 years, and never needed a seat belt or helmet.

I towed for a living once upon a time, and we didn't have Hensleys. I was young and quick enough on the manual trailer brake to stop a swaying trailer (except the time I overdid it and jacknifed one on wet pavement). I'm not young and quick anymore.

When we took the trailer up to Jackson Center last Sunday, a cold front was moving through. Winds were a steady 35-40 mph with gusts well over 50 mph, cutting right across the Interstate. Couldn't feel a thing in the truck. That's priceless.
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Old 05-19-2003, 08:13 AM   #8
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Religion, Politics and Hitches

This whole subject will never be clear cut. Choice of hitch should not be such an emotionally charged issue. There are a number of designs that will work, but there is no doubt that due to the underlying mechanics of the Hensley, it works differently than the other designs. The Hensley does not stop sway, it prevents the root cause (ie a pivot action initiated from the trailer). With a Hensley, any pivot motion MUST originate from the the tow vehicle (makes the rig behave as a motor coach). The PullRite design effectively prevents sway as it converts the trailer to a fifth wheel config by physically moving the pivot point to just above the rear axle (fifth wheel configs are inherently sway free). I towed with a Reese dual cam on my parents A/S rig and I know that minor sway can occur with that setup. (never serious in my experiences). Friction designs use the same principal as brakes to convert mechanical motion (sway) into heat.

[A/Ss are NOT magically immune to sway. They are far more stable than many designs, but not immune. Anything that works to prevent, control or mimimize sway is a desirable goal.


The point that endlessly gets argued is the cost of the Hensley, not the fact that it works. We should agree to disagree. When someone requests info on hitches, we need to stay with facts and let the person decide based those facts as well as their pocketbook. There are those of us that feel the cost vs benefit ratio of the Hensley is reasonable and others that see it as a waste of money....the same could be said for A/S vs S.O.B

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Old 05-19-2003, 11:36 AM   #9
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It's the same as the typical "helmet thread" on the motorcycle forums.

You have many who've ridden dozens of years and never needed a helmet. Some even spew pseudo-science that shows helmets are dangerous.

You have those who believe, and can even show you some report that says a $39 generic brand helmet is as effective as an expensive one.

And you have those who don't mind spending the money for a top of the line Arai, AGV, or Shoei. Their favorite saying is, "if you have a $10 head, wear a $10 helmet."
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Old 05-19-2003, 01:02 PM   #10
 
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If a tow vehicle is inadequate in the first place, a hitch won't make it safer.
We towed a 25', then mostly a 29', with a 1 ton van, close to 100,000 miles with a Reese dual cam. Never had any sway problem.
We tried the 32' , and it towed like a dream.

Don't look for people who have spend $3000 on a hitch to tell you: don't buy it. Better spend the money on the right tow vehicle.

Some will tell me: you don't know what you are talking about because you have not tried it. OK. But I know that I never was in a situation were I thought: we are having a problem, I wish we had a different hitch. So, in the end, Yes, I know what I am talking about.
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Old 05-19-2003, 01:44 PM   #11
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When I first bought my Airstream, it towed like a dream. No sway whatsoever with a just a plain old ball hitch, no WD, no sway control.

After I replaced my axles, shocks and tires, I now have some sway. Keeping the water tank full helps a lot, but it is still there. I suspect it is the tires, that are the root cause, possibly because of the excessive tread depth. Axle alignment is right on.

I now have a full Weight Distribution hitch, with a friction sway control. I have not been on any long trips, just a short jaunt down to the next freeway exit and back. Seems to be OK now, but hard to tell on such a short trip. I am towing with a 1 ton pickup.

From what I have read here, if I had the extra money right now, I WOULD buy a Hensley or Pullrite. (When the patent expires). I have been in contact with a company who is watching this, and they do have the resources to manufacture such a hitch.
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Old 05-19-2003, 02:01 PM   #12
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hensley installation

I find it amazing, somebody ask for help installing and everyone without a hensley tells him he's wasting his money. Something wrong here isn't it?

As for installation, my son and I installed ours with the help of a floor jack. We installed ours at the dealer when we picked up our new airstream. My wife went shopping with the tow vehicle so we had to use a floor jack instead. Roadkingmoe has given you some very good advice.

The installatio took us about an hour, I think if I were to do it again, about a half an hour is all I'd need. Use the company's help line to get it properly alligned, buy the extra parts bag, and when you break a part, (you will) tell them and they will replace it for free.

Congratulations on your decision, and happy trailering.
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Old 05-19-2003, 02:15 PM   #13
 
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Quote:
and everyone without a hensley tells him he's wasting his money. Something wrong here isn't it?
No no no. Just trying to be helpful here
We sure don't want some misguided soul to make the same mistake
The facts. Just the facts.
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Old 05-19-2003, 03:05 PM   #14
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Re: hensley installation

Quote:
Originally posted by markjoandall
I find it amazing, somebody ask for help installing and everyone without a hensley tells him he's wasting his money. Something wrong here isn't it?
I find it highly amusing when someone who's "Never had any sway problem" publicly declares "I know what I am talking about" when it comes to sway.
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Old 05-19-2003, 03:33 PM   #15
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Sway

I had the center gate come open in my unbraked stock trailer, pulled by my '73 Blazer. 1200# bull walked to the rear of the trailer to check the view aft. I used both lanes and both ditches and then some. Yes, I know what sway is.

That same Blazer pulled a 4100# keel sailboat all over the states on a big heavy trailer without any sway equipment of any kind.

I also know what sway is not. The nudge from the bow wave of a a passing 18-wheeler is not sway. A correction for wind gust is not sway. What concerns me is thet the newbie doesn't know that and gets panicked into spending 4 tiimes what a perfectly safe and functional hitch should cost him/her.

I have looked at hundreds of non-Hensley Airstreams that are among the highest mileage units you will find anywhere around. They aren't crumpled balls of metal and the drivers don't emerge shaking with fright after towing them. Hensleys are very rare among them.

Off topic: Actually, given the choice, I would send the cash on 4 wheel steering on my next Silverado. Tests report that they tow like a dream as well as making it easier to back into a site.
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Old 05-19-2003, 05:14 PM   #16
 
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I have just learned that the hitch company making us a hitch as we speak, is offering us $50 if we help sell a bumper hitch, and $100 for a 5th-wheel.

Seeing the numbers of HH enthusiasts and the lack of publicity the company has received on this forum, it is too bad Hensley did not think about doing the same thing.
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Old 05-19-2003, 06:07 PM   #17
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For a second

RoadKingMoe

When first I saw your comment:
I wondered," What did I miss?".



quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I find it highly amusing when someone who's "Never had any sway problem" publicly declares "I know what I am talking about" when it comes to sway.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Then, it dawn upon me poor mind~!

ciao
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Old 05-19-2003, 08:11 PM   #18
 
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I just noticed I let this slip by me, Maurice,

I did not say "I know what I am talking about" when it comes to sway."

I did say (or tried to say, my english is sometimes muddy):

(never did) "I wish we had a different hitch. So, in the end, Yes, I know what I am talking about." (meaning using a HH when I did not feel it was necessary, and my current hitch did the job well)

I was talking about the need for a better hitch. About the need to upgrade form a Reese Dual Cam to a HH.

Somebody here misquoted me and somebody else jumped, again, on the bandwaggon:

and I quote from past quote here:

" If you're going to quote someone..as you did.

" Plse don't edit their comments to suit your point of view "

I hope this misunderstanding is all behind us now ?
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Old 05-19-2003, 09:27 PM   #19
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As you will note, my post is not marked edited, nor is yours. If you will look closely at the position of my quotation marks, you will see I quoted you exactly as you wrote. In one breath, you declare one quote, and in the next breath, the second.

I did not misquote you.
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Old 05-20-2003, 11:20 AM   #20
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Thumbs up

Congrats on your very intelligent decision.

I installed a Hensley on my Safari just last weekend. It was a breeze. I did follow the instructions though. It was necessary to drill out two rivets holding the propane line to the bottom of the A-frame. I used screws and a couple of nuts as spacers to re-install the line. I agonized over spending that much money on a hitch. I had an EZ-Lift WD with a single friction type anti-sway device. As you can see from my profile, I tow with a Toyota Tundra. It's a lightweight but Airstream is selling the Safari on the premise that it was built for us half-tonners.

The reason I started looking at a new hitch is that I experienced one of those white-knuckle moments on our last trip to Arizona. Caught a side wind in a canyon that encouraged me to reach for the manual control on my Prodigy. Everything settled down but everytime a tractor trailer would blow by me I would get that little push. It rained during part of the trip and that affected the sway control to the point where I finally pulled over to check if everything was still bolted up. I don't want to sound dramatic because I never felt like I was going to loose control, I just feel I should be able to relax a bit more when I'm on vacation.

I spent a lot of time on this forum, and others, researching hitches. I watched the free videos from Equalizer and Hensley. The single thing that swayed (no pun intended) me towards the Hensley is that used Hensleys are as rare as hen's teeth and no Hensley owner on any of the RV forums ever expressed a desire to go back to what ever they had before the Hensley. As far as the cost is concerned, if you consider the investment you have in your truck, trailer and trailer contents, $3K is not a significant amount of money. Those of you who are waiting for the patents to expire and the price to drop, you aren't the same folks who are waiting for them to perfect color television before you take the plunge are you? (Just kidding.)

I'm getting out this weekend and really looking forward to seeing if it lives up to all of the claims made for it. I'll let y'all know.
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