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Old 08-12-2009, 10:33 PM   #1
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1999 30' Excella 1000
Canyon Lake , Texas
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Hensley Hitch Guidelines

We installed a rebuilt Hensley Arrow on our '99 AS Excella before we hauled it home from the dealer. Noticed some sway on the road and found one of the struts a bit loose when we got home. About two cranks on the square nut tightened it right back up, but I'm wondering:
  1. Is sway a given if the nuts aren't absolutely tight? How tight is tight?
  2. Why did the strut come loose in the first place? Is this just the brackets and pins taking slightly new positions as the trailer is driven?
  3. I have been tightening up the spring bars to the middle notch, but my dealer thinks I'm putting too much load on the TV front wheels and reducing the load on the rear wheels (the rear wheels sometimes "peel" when starting from a full stop--he thinks this means too little load on the rear). Anyone out there have experience with the HA hitch, a 31' AS, and a Tundra TV (with tow package rated at 10,400# tow capacity)? Personally I think it would be difficult to overload the front axle and "underload" the rear axle with the spring bars, but I'm open to correction on this.
Thanks for the help,
John
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Old 08-13-2009, 07:17 AM   #2
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1978 31' Sovereign
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamnair View Post
We installed a rebuilt Hensley Arrow on our '99 AS Excella before we hauled it home ... Noticed some sway on the road and found one of the struts a bit loose when we got home. About two cranks on the square nut tightened it right back up, but I'm wondering:
  1. Is sway a given if the nuts aren't absolutely tight? How tight is tight?
  2. Why did the strut come loose in the first place? Is this just the brackets and pins taking slightly new positions as the trailer is driven?
John:

I try to put no more than about 10 lbs of force on the handles when tightening the adjustment nuts on the struts to "vertical". The most important thing is to adjust them while the trailer/hitch/TV is absolutely straight and in line.

Some adjustment should be considered normal until you have it "dialed in".

Review the maximum allowable axle weights issued by Toyota for your Tundra, there should be a sticker stating Front Axle, Rear Axle, and Combined Weight Maximum either on the drivers side door or the drivers side "B" pillar. With your setup you may well be exploring the upper limits of the envelope.

It's a long read, but the following thread is really what it says, the ultimate...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f464...ide-26279.html


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamnair View Post

I have been tightening up the spring bars to the middle notch, but my dealer thinks I'm putting too much load on the TV front wheels and reducing the load on the rear wheels (the rear wheels sometimes "peel" when starting from a full stop--he thinks this means too little load on the rear). Anyone out there have experience with the HA hitch, a 31' AS, and a Tundra TV (with tow package rated at 10,400# tow capacity)? Personally I think it would be difficult to overload the front axle and "underload" the rear axle with the spring bars, but I'm open to correction on this.
Without an actual scale weight ticket it is impossible to adjust the weight bars for the optimum geometry. I have included a synopsis of one of my recent weighs below.

I was surprised that with the weight bars relaxed on my setup (not the largest Airstream manufactured) I was overweight on the rear axle. Remember, this is on an Excursion - this brings home the importance of matching the Tow vehicle to the trailer. Hiking up the weight bars to mid level distributed the load nicely, sharing the trailer tongue weight appropriately between the Steer Axle and the Drive Axle.

It will cost less than 20 bucks and an hour or so of your time to get several weighs on a CAT scale - that is one sure way to ensure you have a safe tow. Make sure you get the height measurement for the ground to top of the Front Wheel Well and also for the ground to top of the Rear Wheel Well for each weigh. Besides sharing the weight it is important (secondary to weight) to bring the rig to approximate level with the weight distribution bars. How much weight to add to the front axle is argumentative - a lot depends on the squat of the rig and how much needs to be unloaded from the drive axle to get you back in the manufacturers limits. In my example below, getting the weight on the steer axle back to about what it was prior to sitting the trailer on the rear was about "right".






Without spending some time at the scales it is impossible to tell exactly what you have. It is too inexpensive and takes too little time NOT to make sure the weight distribution bars are set up properly - especially if you are experiencing a problem on dry pavement - imagine what would happen if the rig started to act squirrely on wet or slick pavement.

Airstream safe!
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Old 08-13-2009, 09:38 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamnair View Post
  1. Is sway a given if the nuts aren't absolutely tight? How tight is tight?
  2. Why did the strut come loose in the first place? Is this just the brackets and pins taking slightly new positions as the trailer is driven?
  3. I have been tightening up the spring bars to the middle notch, but my dealer thinks I'm putting too much load on the TV front wheels and reducing the load on the rear wheels (the rear wheels sometimes "peel" when starting from a full stop--he thinks this means too little load on the rear). Anyone out there have experience with the HA hitch, a 31' AS, and a Tundra TV (with tow package rated at 10,400# tow capacity)? Personally I think it would be difficult to overload the front axle and "underload" the rear axle with the spring bars, but I'm open to correction on this.
Thanks for the help,
John

1 AND 2. Yes, if the trailer is allowed to pivot side-to-side on the ball it can sway. The struts lock out that movement transfer it into the links. If one strut becomes loose they are BOTH going to be loose. They work in tandem. The frame bracket shifted back on one side or the other. That is the only way for a strut to become loose after it was tight. It isn't uncommon after the initial install. Just make sure the bracket u-bolts are at 45 ft-lbs. Also, if you look at one of the brackets you'll probably notice it right up against the shear bolt indicating it shifted slightly.


3. I think you're probably right on with the weight distribution if the front end doesn't feel too light or too rigid. You'll know more about that than the dealer.
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Old 08-13-2009, 01:17 PM   #4
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1998 28' Excella
north vancouver , British Columbia
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I purchased a HA last fall and just got around to installing it a few weeks ago. I am towing a 28Ft AS with a 03 GM Yukon XL 2500 with Quadrasteer.
I did not have time to do a round the block test before we headed out on a 7 day 700 mile vacation.
On my way to the ferry I realized something was not set up right as the As was pitching heavily to the left on brakeing. When i arrived at the ferry I made the necessary adjustments. The remainder of the trip was flawless. Hooking up and separating was easy. My wife did some driving for about 100 miles and was so confident she completed the rest of that days driving and manovered into our camp site.
On our last day we were trying to catch a nearlier ferry and completed the last 60 miles at speeds of 70-75 MPH. it was like we wern't towing anything.
In addition to the HA the Quadrasteer option adds greatly to the stability of truck and trailer.

Paul Martin
North Vancouver,BC
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