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Old 11-06-2017, 09:08 AM   #1
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Help me understand the Hensley Hitch, and height impact?

After a hiatus due to my career, my wife and I are ready to hit the road for six weeks, and I find myself confronted with weight again.

The tow vehicle is a 2014 Dodge Ram 1500 Ecodiesel, and the Airstream in question is a 2014 International Serenity 28'. The hitch is a Hensley Arrow hitch with 1,000 pound struts.

The key thing that I am trying to understand is the impact that the difference in height between the tow vehicle and the Airstream has on the tongue weight and the projection onto the forward axles.

I have four sets of measurements --
  • Before: The first pair is with some payload, and the five Sendai wheels in the truckbed -- and the factory original 15" wheels + Marathon ST tires.
  • After: The second pair is with the same payload shifted forward onto the truck bed, minus five Sendai wheels. -- and the 16" Sendai wheels + Michelin XPS Ribs.
  • Before Wheel Change (TV Only) --- Steer Axle: 3,460# Drive Axle: 2,900# Trailer Axle: 0# GCW: 6,360#
  • Before Wheel Change (TV + TT) --- Steer Axle: 3,200# Drive Axle 4,160# Trailer Axle: 6,060# GCW: 13,440#
  • After Wheel Change (TV Only) --- Steer Axle 3,500# Drive Axle: 2,720# Trailer Axle: 0# GCW: 6,220#
  • After Wheel Change (TV + TT) -- Steer Axle 3,280# Drive Axle: 3,940# Trailer Axle 6,200# GCW: 13,420#

The drive axle weight is slightly higher than the GAWR of the rear at 3,900, but I can return the two AGM group 24 batteries that I have in the bed for my battery deposit and drop it down.

By looking at the difference of the sum of the truck axles before and after, I can calculate the tongue weight and trailer weights:
  • Before Wheel Change -- Tongue Weight 1,020# Trailer Weight: 7,080#
  • Ater Wheel Change -- Tongue Weight: 1,000# Trailer Weight: 7,200#

I appear to be within specs for the tongue weight, but on the edge.

Should I be upgrading the arm bars on the Hensley hitch from 1,000 to 1,400 lbs?

Another part that I'm trying to determine is how much weight does the Hensley project onto the front axles of my tow vehicle? Because when I look at the tow vehicle with and without the trailer, the steer axles actually dropped by 260# and 220# respectively. This makes sense to me as we're putting weight on the rear axle, and it's lifting the front like a fulcrum.

What would I need to adjust on the Hensley hitch to project the weight a bit more forward onto the steer axle?

By increasing the wheels from 15" to 16", and the tires, I gain about 1.2" according to tire size calculations at 80 psi. I have a 2" Hensley hitch bar, with the high end going into the TV. The TV measures at 21" for the hitch receiver, and the Airstream is about ~20-21".

Should I be exchanging my Hensley hitch bars, and how would that affect the projection of weight onto the tow vehicle?

I have other things that I am considering doing, like moving the batteries from the trailer A-frame to the rear of the trailer when I upgrade to LiIPh batteries on the trip -- removing 80-100 lbs from the A-frame, and adding about 120 pounds under the rear bed.

Has anyone done this, and how has it impacted your tongue weight?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts or opinions on above!
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Old 11-06-2017, 09:40 AM   #2
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Less worry motor fun

I tow a 30 ft Airsteam with a 2016 Ecodiesel. Does great. We have the ProPride hitch. I have 1400 lb bars. BUT. If you can level the trailer and truck with those bars and it feels solid. Let it go you will be fine. If you feel a bit of porposing than you may need to go to heavier bars. Use what you have. Iíve driven about 10k miles this year with the trailer. 14 MPG avg. and I regularly run 65-70 MPH.

To be honest I think you wasted your money buying new rims. I use Michelin Defender 235-75-15. Keep pressure at 50 lbs. Well within load range of tires. Keeps trailer riding smooth. I would air down to at least 60 lbs. Reduce rivet pops.


You have a great set up. Enjoy your trips!!!
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Old 11-06-2017, 09:41 AM   #3
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I will be following this thread closely. This is the first time I have seen someone post real numbers. The set up is very close to what I have except that Hensley suggested the 1400 bars so that is what I have. I also have the 2017 Classic so my numbers will be slightly different. Again, this is the first I have seen real life numbers and not just theory. Looking forward to reading.
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Old 11-06-2017, 09:49 AM   #4
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Hensley Arrow or CUB ?

You need to tension the WD bars to transfer weight. With the bars tensioned properly your rear axle should be just under it's rated capacity.

The 1000# bars should work for you. They work for us with a 1200# tongue weight.

You need to see the bars arched as in the photo. Use a socket on the nut at the top of the jack. The more bend the more weight transfer.


This should help

Some more real numbers....three weights needed.
TV alone.
2nd w/o WD applied.
3rd with WD applied.



Good Luck

Bob
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Old 11-06-2017, 10:53 AM   #5
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I will say that I had to replace my thousand pound bars with 1400 lb bars. I did not buy them through Hensley I bought them through eTrailer they're made by draw Tite. They were half the cost of what Hensley was asking for. They may exchange them at no charge other than shipping. Being how I bought my Hensley used I didn't have that bargaining power.
You should really try to weigh your camper as though you are going camping to get the most accurate adjustments. Having wheels and tires adds confusion to your setup. As long as front axle has solid braking and steering the Hensley is forgiving.
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Old 11-06-2017, 11:23 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBERT CROSS View Post
You need to see the bars arched as in the photo. Use a socket on the nut at the top of the jack. The more bend the more weight transfer.
Looking at your picture, my bars aren't bent like that, and I've tensioned it as much as I can -- i.e. the cylinder is retracted up as much as they'll go. And when they're like that, the ride is pretty stiff.

I've never seen the spring bar connector to the cylinders bent like that. Looking at the manual PDF that you linked me to, the spring bars are pretty straight in the photos in there.

Is it because you have 1200# on 1000# bars?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Overloaded
I will say that I had to replace my thousand pound bars with 1400 lb bars.
You said that you 'had to replace' -- what drove this decision? What was your tongue weight, and how did it impact the weight distribution?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jim6090
I tow a 30 ft Airsteam with a 2016 Ecodiesel. Does great. We have the ProPride hitch. I have 1400 lb bars. BUT. If you can level the trailer and truck with those bars and it feels solid. Let it go you will be fine. If you feel a bit of porposing than you may need to go to heavier bars. Use what you have. Iíve driven about 10k miles this year with the trailer. 14 MPG avg. and I regularly run 65-70 MPH.
It feels fairly solid, but it's on the edge. I've driven about 10,000 miles with our setup before we had to move to Baltimore for my job.

Quote:
To be honest I think you wasted your money buying new rims. I use Michelin Defender 235-75-15. Keep pressure at 50 lbs. Well within load range of tires. Keeps trailer riding smooth. I would air down to at least 60 lbs. Reduce rivet pops.
I was also after the extra inch of clearance after having had many bad moments of going into driveways, curbs, or gas station entrances.

The XPS Ribs were filled to 80 psi by the tire shop, and it does feel like a much harder ride. Maybe I'll air it down to 70 psi.
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Old 11-06-2017, 11:36 AM   #7
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I wish I had known about Michelin Defender 235/75R15 tires before I bought my 16" wheels 2 years ago, but that's water under the bridge now.
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Old 11-06-2017, 12:48 PM   #8
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My TW weight is about 1350 lbs. The 1000 lb bars only returned 20 lbs to front axle and I think about 50 lbs to trailer axles.

I also have a Hensley that was made in the 80's my bars don't have that spring action nor the "hook" at the end of bars as seen in pic above.
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Old 11-06-2017, 01:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Overloaded View Post
My TW weight is about 1350 lbs. The 1000 lb bars only returned 20 lbs to front axle and I think about 50 lbs to trailer axles.

I also have a Hensley that was made in the 80's my bars don't have that spring action nor the "hook" at the end of bars as seen in pic above.
Not sure why that would be...I can easily return 389 lbs to front axle and 143 lbs to trailer axle. I do have a Propride tilt and height adjustable stinger made for Hensley head (by Sean). That makes a difference.
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Old 11-06-2017, 02:09 PM   #10
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Wt. Dist.hitch

WDH FORMULAR CCF09262017.pdf
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Old 11-06-2017, 04:36 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Overloaded View Post
I also have a Hensley that was made in the 80's my bars don't have that spring action nor the "hook" at the end of bars as seen in pic above.
Yes, that was what was confusing me in Bob's picture. My Hensley doesn't have that hook, and it appears that the hook helps with bending the bars.
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Old 11-06-2017, 05:21 PM   #12
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I have a propride so hopefully the Hensley is set up the same way. I had to add more washers so the shank tilts back to the trailer. It's now about 20% tilted back from the original shank which was vertical to the ground. That will throw more weight to the Steer Axle.
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Old 11-06-2017, 05:59 PM   #13
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I have a propride so hopefully the Hensley is set up the same way. I had to add more washers so the shank tilts back to the trailer. It's now about 20% tilted back from the original shank which was vertical to the ground. That will throw more weight to the Steer Axle.
Hensley does not produce an adjustable stinger.
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Old 11-06-2017, 06:36 PM   #14
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Quote:


Looking at your picture, my bars aren't bent like that, and I've tensioned it as much as I can -- i.e. the cylinder is retracted up as much as they'll go. And when they're like that, the ride is pretty stiff.

I've never seen the spring bar connector to the cylinders bent like that. Looking at the manual PDF that you linked me to, the spring bars are pretty straight in the photos in there.

Is it because you have 1200# on 1000# bars?
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

No I transfer 820Lbs with the 1000Lb bars.

They may look different because they are 1000lb tapered bars, the taper enables the bend with helps with a softer ride.

The 1400lb bars in conjunction with a poorly designed OEM receiver caused a very rough ride with way too much tension needed to transfer only 480lbs.
I upgraded the OEM with a Reese Class V TowBeast.

OEM...


Reese replacement...notice the longer moment,(mount) arms, which enable the bars to easily transfer more weight.


You may have to shorten your jacks, I'm at the 4th hole from the bottom, I have the inner tubes marked for different loads.


Pictures of your set-up would help....

Bob
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