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Old 09-15-2019, 02:05 PM   #1
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Do I really need the Hensley?

Hello All!

I have just upgraded my TV to a 2018 Ram 2500 4x4 Diesel. I am towing a 1975 Ambassador. The trailer is bone stock and weighs in at about 5k unloaded. I used the Hensley with my GMC 1500, but am tired of dealing with the Hensley and would rather trailer on the ball. I tow a backhoe on a 12 ton flatbed trailer everyday for work with a Ram 5500(gooseneck) , so Iím pretty experienced towing things. We make several 300 mile round trips to Florida and 2-1400 mile round trip from Atlanta to Arkansas each year. Just me and the wife. Itís our mobile hotel room, so we donít load the trailer or the truck very heavy. Would love to hear some opinions.

DK
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Old 09-15-2019, 02:14 PM   #2
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My opinion is: Towing your Ambassador, no you don't specifically need a Hensley, but maybe you do need weight distribution. Sway control - yes!

If your 34', the trailer in your avatar, is close to mine it's weighs around 9,000 lbs and got ~1,200 lbs on the hitch. WD required.

What your truck's specification says, in the Owners Manual>

"If the gross trailer weight is 5,000 lbs (2,267 kg) or more,
it is recommended to use a weight-distributing hitch to
ensure stable handling of your vehicle. If you use a
standard weight-carrying hitch, you could lose control
of your vehicle and cause a collision."
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Old 09-15-2019, 02:47 PM   #3
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You do not need a weight distribution with your rig and trailer. Your rear axle can easily handle the hitch load. You also do not need a sway control device as your trailer will not sway.
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Old 09-15-2019, 03:03 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by out of sight View Post
You do not need a weight distribution with your rig and trailer. Your rear axle can easily handle the hitch load. You also do not need a sway control device as your trailer will not sway.
Now that is counter-intuitive! No sway control on a 2500 diesel? I've pulled a 30 classic with my F-250 diesel in 70 miles an hour crosswinds and I am glad I had a ProPride!

No Sway control pulling a 34 footer. That's a new one.
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Old 09-15-2019, 03:04 PM   #5
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1975 29' Ambassador
Social Circle , Georgia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A W Warn View Post
My opinion is: Towing your Ambassador, no you don't specifically need a Hensley, but maybe you do need weight distribution. Sway control - yes!

If your 34', the trailer in your avatar, is close to mine it's weighs around 9,000 lbs and got ~1,200 lbs on the hitch. WD required.

What your truck's specification says, in the Owners Manual>

"If the gross trailer weight is 5,000 lbs (2,267 kg) or more,
it is recommended to use a weight-distributing hitch to
ensure stable handling of your vehicle. If you use a
standard weight-carrying hitch, you could lose control
of your vehicle and cause a collision."
Thanks Alan. I forgot to change my trailer in the Avatar. We currently have a 1975 Ambassador. Sorry

DK
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Old 09-15-2019, 03:20 PM   #6
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A weight distribution hitch can cause problems that will make your rig unsafe. First, it removes weight from the tow vehicle's rear axle and that can cause instability. You need a lot of load there to control trailer sway. Also, by putting springs at the hitch point this can cause dangerous porpoising. And another thing, a w/d hitch will extend the distance from the tow vehicle axle to the hitch point and this geometry can also lead to instability.

My recommendation to those who are wondering if they need a w/d hitch is to try towing on the ball, first at low speed until you build up confidence. At some point you will realize that don't need the hitch.

If your rear axle becomes overloaded due to the hitch load, however, a w/d hitch can alleviate that. But you would still be much better off if your tow vehicle was big enough that axle loading isn't an issue.
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Old 09-16-2019, 09:30 AM   #7
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I would not tow without sway control and weight distribution - we have a Reese Straightline Dual Cam Weight Distribution/Sway Control System and love it.
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Old 09-16-2019, 09:44 AM   #8
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I second drbrick’s post - have the same set-up
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Old 09-16-2019, 09:52 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by out of sight View Post
You do not need a weight distribution with your rig and trailer. Your rear axle can easily handle the hitch load. You also do not need a sway control device as your trailer will not sway.

Maybe, on the weight distribution and no on the sway.

Maybe because you would still need to put 600-800lb bars on if you used friction-less sway control using a conventional frictionless sway (Dual Cam, etc)

If you opted for friction sway control, in all likelihood, yes, you could do without weight distribution, but why?

Yes, you are going to pull some of the weight off the rear axle, but as long as you follow best practices, you are NOT going to pull all or most of the weight off the rear axle. Weight distribution helps balance out the load. Using your reasoning, one could argue the opposite, that having the front axle weight significant diminished could lead to loss of control/steering. Hit a bump and loose steering is about a possible as loosing control by taking some weight off the rear axle.

IMHO, unless you have a trailer that doesn't need trailer brakes, you need some level of weight distribution and sway control. Airstream RVs can and do sway. Simple physics under correct circumstances.
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Old 09-16-2019, 10:27 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by panamerican View Post
Maybe, on the weight distribution and no on the sway.

Maybe because you would still need to put 600-800lb bars on if you used friction-less sway control using a conventional frictionless sway (Dual Cam, etc)

If you opted for friction sway control, in all likelihood, yes, you could do without weight distribution, but why?

Yes, you are going to pull some of the weight off the rear axle, but as long as you follow best practices, you are NOT going to pull all or most of the weight off the rear axle. Weight distribution helps balance out the load. Using your reasoning, one could argue the opposite, that having the front axle weight significant diminished could lead to loss of control/steering. Hit a bump and loose steering is about a possible as loosing control by taking some weight off the rear axle.

IMHO, unless you have a trailer that doesn't need trailer brakes, you need some level of weight distribution and sway control. Airstream RVs can and do sway. Simple physics under correct circumstances.
I have towed our 30' Classic with and without.
Towing it with provided a less harsh ride. Of course I didn't bother raising the ball which made the trailer nose heavy but hooking it up with the Blue Ox which is not very involved was a much smoother ride.
As to sway I don't worry about it towing with an F-250.
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Old 09-16-2019, 10:36 AM   #11
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I have never experienced any type of trailer sway and i have towed in every possible condition. I tow on the ball. Its hard for me to believe that trailer sway is not a myth concocted by people who sell hitches.

I also have ESC on my tow vehicles though it has never activated.
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Old 09-16-2019, 10:38 AM   #12
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Do I really need the Hensley?

What does your Ambassadorís tongue weigh (assuming 500-750# if using the 10-15% normative range) and what does your Ramís manual suggest for that?

I have a Chevy 2500 4X4 diesel and tow a 27FB (heavier on the tongue than RB, especially with the ProPride on the a-frame; similar to your Hensley). According to math against CAT scale tickets, my tongue is just shy of 1000#. According to my manual for my truck, on a 2500/3500, a WD hitch is *optional* for trailers up to 18,000# - so clearly optional for my 27FB with a max of 7600#.

For WD: weighing the rig with the 3 pass method, I found I was lifting about 500# off the steer axle of my truck (despite the heavy front end) and absent any WD, the ride was atrocious. For me, replacing as close to 100% of what was removed from the front reduced porpoising dramatically and kept the steering feel as close to unloaded as possible.

For those reasons, my opinion would be to get your scale weights, see what your Ramís manual suggests, test it out and decide what works best for you from there.

For sway control: the way the Hensley hitches work is ideal from a sway prevention perspective. Even if WD is optional (and you can of course dial in as little or as much WD as you want with these hitches), I personally wouldnít travel without sway prevention capability hooked up. The geometry of the trapezoid linkage turns your rig in to a virtual 5th wheel experience. As AmEx used to say, ďdonít leave home without it.Ē

Thatís my opinion. Free advice worth everything you paid for it.

Good luck.

PS - what are you tired about dealing with on the Hensley? Just curious....
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Old 09-16-2019, 10:57 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by out of sight View Post
I have never experienced any type of trailer sway and i have towed in every possible condition. I tow on the ball. Its hard for me to believe that trailer sway is not a myth concocted by people who sell hitches.

I also have ESC on my tow vehicles though it has never activated.
Well, I have some friends who lost a truck and trailer(Airstream) to a sway event, so it is not a myth.

Larry
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Old 09-16-2019, 11:11 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by out of sight View Post
A weight distribution hitch can cause problems that will make your rig unsafe. First, it removes weight from the tow vehicle's rear axle and that can cause instability. You need a lot of load there to control trailer sway. Also, by putting springs at the hitch point this can cause dangerous porpoising. And another thing, a w/d hitch will extend the distance from the tow vehicle axle to the hitch point and this geometry can also lead to instability.
Properly adjusted, a weight distributing hitch will not remove weight from your rear axle, at least not compared to the unhitched axle weight. Having too little weight on your front axle causes instability.
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Old 09-16-2019, 11:32 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by out of sight View Post
I have never experienced any type of trailer sway and i have towed in every possible condition. I tow on the ball. Its hard for me to believe that trailer sway is not a myth concocted by people who sell hitches.

I also have ESC on my tow vehicles though it has never activated.


I recently sold my Airstream 30í to a couple that had totaled their Airstream and pickup due to a sway event. So yes, it does happen.
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Old 09-16-2019, 11:50 AM   #16
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Are you sure they are not just blaming the accident on trailer sway? Lot's of people in accidents caused by bad driving blame it something else.
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Old 09-16-2019, 11:54 AM   #17
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I can certainly understand your question since you are experienced in towing.
You already own the Hensley so to me it is a no brainer to keep running this hitch. You need to think through the benefits of having this hitch.
1. The sway control component is separate from the weight distribution component of the hitch. The hitch naturally gives you the anti-sway protection. The weight distribution component can be dialed in for as little WD or as much WD as needed - you can fine tune your setup.
2. Another reason to have this hitch is that it can help with things that are not in control such as: side winds from trucks or thunderstorms, emergency maneuvers from a car that cuts you off or a deer that jumps in front of your truck or other such scenarios.
There is no doubt the truck you have would handle the 75' Ambassador but you would be giving up a lot in comfort and safety by not using the Hensley. I use a Hensley and have a 3/4 ton Dodge CTD and towed with and without this hitch. I'll take my Hensley all day long, it makes a difference.
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Old 09-16-2019, 11:57 AM   #18
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When the 40%/60% formula is ignored, sway will happen. I do not use hitch at all. I had a sway when I towed my previous popup because I was not careful with the 40/60% formula. I moved heavier things further up front to make the rear area lighter, the swaying issue stopped. I recently bought AS and never had a sway at all. Just a proper weight distributing INSIDE the AS, it takes care of any swaying.
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Old 09-16-2019, 11:58 AM   #19
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Are you sure they are not just blaming the accident on trailer sway? Lot's of people in accidents caused by bad driving blame it something else.


Nope, crested a hill and getting passed by a semi as I recall, set the sway into motion, bounced off jersey wall then into median and rolled. They even had sway control, donít recall the brand. Iíve towed on the ball a few times, both 27FB and 30í without problems but it only takes one oddball occurrence. I currently have a pro-pride. You donít even feel push by semis or crosswinds. Overkill Iím sure but itís peace of mind for me.
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Old 09-16-2019, 12:15 PM   #20
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I don't feel any sway from passing semi's or buses, not even a bump.

I actually did experience trailer sway once. We got caught in an EF-0 tornado with winds of 65-85 mph. You want to see sway! But we were unhitched and stationary at the time. I wouldn't recommend towing in winds more than 40 mph as they are known to flip over empty semi rigs.
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