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Old 08-24-2014, 09:26 PM   #1
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Lucy's Hensley Bites the Dust

Lucy is now stranded in Moses Lake, Washington. This morning when I started to get Lucy hooked up, I noticed that the Hensley was not reacting quite right. Upon closer inspection my heart sank as I realized that the upper and lower sections of the Hensley had separated exposing the upper bearing set.

SuEllyn called Hensley and left a message. we didn't expect a quick response as it was Sunday afternoon in Michigan. Within ten minutes, Aaron from Hensley called us back. I described the situation to him, and he suggested against trying to tow with in this condition. He said that he will contact us tomorrow morning and start arrangements to get a new Hensley to us. As we are the original owners, it is under warranty.

Our Hensley in number 8332 and we have had it almost ten years. We have towed two Airstreams with it totaling approximately 130,000 miles.

We will see how tomorrow works out. We couldn't be any further from home in the lower 48. Fortunately we noticed the problem at a campground as opposed to along the highway somewhere.

Here are a couple of pictures.

Brian
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Old 08-24-2014, 09:37 PM   #2
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Tough luck!
You will need to pull the Hensley off and disassemble. If you have ever packed a wheel bearing then the job shouldn't be too tough. A local garage could help.
At a minimum it will likely need new bearings, races and seals. It is possible that the spindles could be chewed up and needs replacing.
Maybe they will just send you a refurbished hitch head......

Has your hitch ever been taken apart to maintenance the bearings?
I have disassembled two hitches and painted them. Each time the bearings were full of moisture and rust. The remaining grease was just a gooey mess.
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Old 08-24-2014, 09:44 PM   #3
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Like crispy said, the internals are just like your axle hub bearings. If you get hung up too long, head for an old school auto repair and they should not have to much trouble.
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Old 08-24-2014, 10:02 PM   #4
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Unless the shaft broke down at the castellated nut area, I'd wager the lower bearings have come apart. I also would like to know the maintenance history of your repacks and inspections. I hear water can find its way to the lower bearing set as the seals age. I disassembled mine and repacked and inspected when I repainted 2 years ago. All looked good and mine is about 14 years old (Serial# label is long gone, but Hensley after describing some features on it, said it was about a 2000 model) but PO didn't appear to have used it much by the wear patterns on it.

How about popping off the bottom bearing cups and getting some pics and notes, Brian. Might be most helpful.
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Old 08-24-2014, 10:16 PM   #5
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Anyone way up yonder can step up and help?
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Old 08-24-2014, 11:11 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by moosetags View Post
Within ten minutes, Aaron from Hensley called us back. I described the situation to him, and he suggested against trying to tow with in this condition. He said that he will contact us tomorrow morning and start arrangements to get a new Hensley to us. As we are the original owners, it is under warranty.
Brian
Rather than follow the suggestions of taking apart and rebuilding, if it were me, I would just wait until the new unit from Hensley arrives.

Although we have never had any problem like yours with our Hensley, the company's reaction to any request from me has been very prompt. I suspect those with a ProPride have the same experience. Two companies with good products and ready to help their customers.

Tim
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Old 08-24-2014, 11:15 PM   #7
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I'm not suggesting rebuilding. I am really curious what the condition of the lower bearings are, and if they have been wet for a period of time. That would tell the rest of us to up our maintenance game. The exposed upper bearings look pretty dry and crusty in the pic.
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Old 08-25-2014, 06:44 AM   #8
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Lots of miles! Anything can wear out, even with proper maintenance. Seems I remember you rebuilding it a few years ago? Not a fan of the hitch, but am a fan of the company and their service.good luck, jim
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Old 08-25-2014, 07:20 AM   #9
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Yes, I had a new to me, used, unit that needed painting, so a complete disassembly was in order. It got new seals, spring bar bushings and bar retainers, which are all maintenance pieces. This experience, could help us with a maintenance schedule, as Brian has used his pretty much full time...not much "lot rot". I am really curious whether a repack every 25,000 or X years is a good idea. Also, I would like to know if there was evidence of water in the lower bearing. If so, I think a sealer around the cups might be in order. Yes, it is a lot of miles and things do wear out, but this is a setup just like an old front wheel bearing setup in a truck and repacks were required every 15,000 to 25,000 miles and it wasn't uncommon for bearings to be replaced relatively often.

Now these bearings don't spin at the speeds of wheel bearings, but it looks like there might be some maintenance/inspection requirements that Hensley, (and I would suggest , PP) don't discuss in their literature.
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Old 08-25-2014, 11:12 AM   #10
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After discussion with Aaron at Hensley this morning, we have decided to have Hensley send us a replacement head unit. We discussed rebuilding Lucy's old unit here, and felt that there were too many chances that we would not be able to do it on site.

The UPS freight on the replacement unit is $95 and we will have to return our old unit which will be another $95. I guess $200 is not so bad to get going again.

Hensley told me that the replacement unit will continue to be warranted.

The replacement unit will arrive here on Friday.

Brian
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Old 08-25-2014, 11:29 AM   #11
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Brian, you are wise to not attempt the repair. I have a head assembly in my basement with this problem, and one of the spindle arms had bent when the bearing failed. You would not be able to get everything back together again.
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Old 08-25-2014, 11:48 AM   #12
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Brian, you are wise to not attempt the repair. I have a head assembly in my basement with this problem, and one of the spindle arms had bent when the bearing failed. You would not be able to get everything back together again.

Thanks, Terry. I felt that this was the best choice under the circumstances. If this had happened at home, I would have at least taken the unit apart to see if I could determine a cause for the failure.

Being 3,000 miles from home and in the middle of a big journey, we just want to get Lucy operational and continue our trip.

Thing like this must be taken in stride if we want to continue our Airstream adventures.

Brian
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Old 08-25-2014, 12:46 PM   #13
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A "hint" on shipping, if one were to ship from one business to another business the rates are considerably less.
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Old 08-25-2014, 01:01 PM   #14
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Thing like this must be taken in stride if we want to continue our Airstream adventures.

Brian

That's the spirit! But I just want to send my condolences, because I can't imagine anywhere I would LESS want to be stranded for a week than Moses Lake, WA. But on the bright side, you are close enough you could probably drive down and visit Janet while you're out there
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