Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 10-16-2014, 07:23 PM   #1
Rivet Master
 
Foiled Again's Avatar
 
2012 25' FB Eddie Bauer
Vintage Kin Owner
Virginia Beach , Virginia
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 5,883
Hensley Hitch Hay-ell!

Pride cometh before a fall...

Or how it took 316 attempts and 5 hours to successfully get my tow vehicle and Hensley hitch together. (No I didn't count them, but it really took 5 effen hours!)

I've had the new trailer and Hensley hitch for slightly over 15 months, and most times I've successfully gotten hitched up within 1 to 5 backing attempts. But not the last two times I needed to hitch up. I was planning on traveling from Virginia Beach to Lancaster PA, (and avoid I-95 and the Baltimore beltway which is worse than the DC beltway), so I allowed 2 hours to tidy up, stow and hitch the trailer. All went well until I backed the truck up. The end-of-season campsite had packed earth badly rutted by a whole season of other campers. I swear I could be perfectly aligned from a foot away or even six inches away and could even "get it in 2 inches" looking perfect... but would then bang and never mate successfully. No matter what I tried in terms of adjusting the hitch or cranking the bars up and down to adjust the hitch I had a situation where the back end of the truck and a bump in the earth caused the post on the back of the truck to point slightly up... while I could only get the Hensley to be level. I didn't have a shovel, but I was ready to "landscape" the place where my rear tires were with a stick of dynamite.

For two cents I would have ripped the Hensley off and towed with ball and chains. Of course that might have taken 5 more hours to do too.

So finally along came a neighbor who had offered to help before - and I'd politely turned down - and suggested "Tell me like you're trying to teach me how to use this thing and maybe that will help." I obliged, and also asked if he had a shovel.

Here's his brilliant part.

He said, "I have an Idea. What you really need is three fat guys sitting on your tonneau cover." With that he proceeded to lower the front end of my trailer almost to the dirt, than got two hefty friends who sat on the back of my tonneau cover and LOWERED the rear end of the F-150 with their "overload". I backed up, slid all the way up the hitch end perfectly. I put on the emergency brake, got a bottle of Wild Turkey from the bar and thanked my "human ballast".

I literally had to take another shower before I could leave because I'd stressed so badly about trying to hitch up. I've never had an experience like that before and I'm really asking myself now... Is this kind of hitch really good if it can be rendered unusable by a bad campsite?

Well getting started 5 hours late for a trip to Lancaster PA also changed something else. No way I could take a stress free slow ride up 301 or any other back road. I am going to arrive after dark no matter what... and I have to be AT the conference at 7:30 the next morning which means I have to UNHITCH well before that. It's cloudy so there will be no moon once the sun sets. I need lighted highway. I'm now going up I-95 and around both the DC and Baltimore Beltways!!!!!! HAY-ELL!!!!! And I'm exhausted before I start.

I'll spare you the details of the trip except to say "roadwork 5 miles ahead" was a sign that I saw about every 20 miles. Orange cones to the left of me, orange cones to the right of me, the beltways after dark.... Not one of the most fun trips of my life. A trip of only slightly over 300 miles took me 12 hours. As tired as I was, I stopped twice and napped because I knew I needed to.

So I get to the campground long after everyone is gone and found a vacant spot THAT PUT THE TOW VEHICLE NOSE DOWN. I didn't unhitch or hook anything up. I just pulled the covers up over my head and got a few hours of sleep until the office opened and the sun was up so I could find a "level" spot.

Great conference.

Then had to hitch up and leave... I'd already decided to take the Airstream to the hotel on the morning of the last day of the conference. The hotel had graciously agreed to let me park it in the bus section.

And the level spot I was going to hitch and pull out of was only about 25 feet from the cement block campground office. Yep. I had to try to get a quad cab Ford perfectly straight in front of a trailer and do it wedged between the trailer and the wall of the office. (Language to make a Marine DI blush) Actually had to take the stringer OUT of the receiver to get it aligned, then didn't have room to put the stringer back IN until I lowered the Hensley into the dirt, wedged the stringer in, pulled forward until JUST enough to clear the stringer, jumped out, raised the front of the camper, and backed on perfectly - after only 10 or so tries to get the truck straight so the hitch could engage this time. Made it to the hotel with the trailer, parked out in the bus lot, made it to the first meeting session on time.... but HO BOY not my most fun in an Airstream ever week. (still better than a wreck but not by much!)

Anyone wanna buy a good used Hensley?

.
.
.
.
But seriously folks, I'm going to be entering into a serious conversation with Hensley about whether it might be (A) safe and (B) advisable to make some modest modifications to their stringer. I'm thinking of taking an angle grinder to the front of the wedges on the stringer to make it a little more forgiving about going into the hole, and I'm wondering if the shank that goes into the front of the Hensley couldn't safely be a bit shorter, or tapered at the end so that a slight bit of up/down difference between the tow vehicle and the stringer could be tolerated. (Is anyone going to chime in and mention that PP may already have these?)

Got back with little drama - took I-95 and the beltways.... with only one tractor trailer that passed me on the right honking his air horn and giving me the finger the whole way - when there were two left lanes available with NO traffic on them...... Then had a "crotch rocket" motorcyclist pass from right to left just as the vehicle in front of me slammed on his brakes and... Well this old broad saved that whipper-snapper's life by getting the left foot onto the brake pedal in a BIG hurry.

Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?


Whew.

Just got back from Home Depot. Bought a shovel.
__________________

__________________
Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present.
Foiled Again is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2014, 07:47 PM   #2
Slide Out Society #001
 
GCinSC2's Avatar
 
2007 30' Classic S/O
Somewhere , South Carolina
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 2,053
Good one Paula, maybe they'll add a page in the manual for the "Paula Hookup Twist" hitching drill.
__________________

__________________
S/OS #001
2005 Dodge Ram 2500 5.9L 6 Speed
16" Michelins, Hi Spec Wheels, Max Brake, Carslile Actuator, Equal-i-zer, Dill TPMS. Campfire cook.
GCinSC2 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2014, 07:59 PM   #3
Rivet Master
 
Wingeezer's Avatar
 
2005 30' Classic
Burlington , Ontario
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 2,709
Out of curiosity, did you have trouble initially when you first "UNHOOKED" the trailer in that trouble spot?


We have been using our Hensley for a few years now and I think I have gotten a system that works well for me in hooking up - pretty much always get it on the first attempt now - it took a while though to achieve that!

Last time we were out with the trailer though, the site we were given was such that it was quite a it lower than the roadway. When I got the trailer positioned on the site, the front wheels of the truck were up high on the road and the back wheels low down.

No matter what I did with the tongue jack and spring bars I could not get the stinger loose in the hitch and so it would not easily come out.

I thought maybe I could use BF&FI ("Brute Force and %&#@ Ignorance") and just put the truck in FWD and have another try, but then it occurred to me that even if I succeeded in that, I would surely have a heck of a job hooking up when we wanted t leave!

So instead, we moved to another site!

Brian.


PS - the "tools" I use now than seem to work for me in getting a smooth hookup every time include:

- backup camera

- 25ft bright yellow tape measure laid out on the ground parallel to the trailer body and leading right to the hitch. (I can then follow the tape measure right to the hitch ensuring all is lined up using the backup camera)

- A dummy 2" x 2" x 14" wooden bar inserted in the hitch box on the trailer to ensure that I match the vertical angle of the hitch box to the angle of the stinger when i get close (By using a combination of the tongue jack and Hensley jack screws)

- Finally (!) one of those Hensley sidewinder gadgets that goes under the tongue and allows me to use a ratchet to move the hitch box laterally for perfect final adjustment before I put the stinger in.

Sounds complicated but in reality works great for me! Swingle handed hookups are a breeze this way.

I too have had a few frustrating times in the past though, and soon learned the lesson that if it doesn't hook up right away, no point in trying to force it, something isn't lined up properly! Drive ahead and try again!

Once you do get it hooked up, the ride & handling is well worth any extra effort!

Brian
__________________
Brian & Connie Mitchell

2005 Classic 30'
Hensley Arrow / Centramatics
2008 GMC Sierra SLT 2500HD,4x4,Crew Cab, Diesel, Leer cap.
Wingeezer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2014, 09:14 PM   #4
Rivet Master
 
Foiled Again's Avatar
 
2012 25' FB Eddie Bauer
Vintage Kin Owner
Virginia Beach , Virginia
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 5,883
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wingeezer View Post
Out of curiosity, did you have trouble initially when you first "UNHOOKED" the trailer in that trouble spot?


Brian
Yep. Big SPROING!!! when I unhitched.

Plus I camped in this one spot for almost three weeks, and it RAINED several times. I am sure my truck itself added to the divots and lumps on the campsite.
__________________
Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present.
Foiled Again is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2014, 09:24 PM   #5
4 Rivet Member
 
BassCan's Avatar
 
2014 27' FB Eddie Bauer
Mobile , Alabama
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 294
Glad you made your trip safely. Those white knuckle night drives are exhausting.
__________________
BassCan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2014, 10:13 PM   #6
'06 75th Winick Prototype
 
Lockport , Louisiana
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 23
You just described everything I never, ever want to experience with hitching up a trailer. I would have ripped that complicated monstrosity off after about an hour or so and left it literally in a trash pile. You could have bought a new uncomplicated stress-free hitch, installed it, AND set it up properly it in the time it took just to get that thing aligned properly in your receiver.

Although, I must admit, it's always fun at the campground to sit around the picnic table watching someone try to get hitched up with a Hensley. Doing it quickly and easily on the first 5 or so tries sure does take some amazing talent and patience. As long as you camp on a smooth concrete pad and not a bumpy dirt campsite on an angle (like most real campgrounds in the woods) then you're good to go...but it still takes a true artist to really get it to line up properly on the first attempt.
__________________
75TH BAMBI is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2014, 11:15 PM   #7
Rivet Master
 
richinny's Avatar
 
2011 34' Classic
Westchester Cty.NY , / Miami FL
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 3,122
paula, return the shovel. next time mut a lego block under the front tires. as many of us have found, both vehicles need to be level on the horizontal plane too. i use a 2' level to match the angles. i want to taper that stinger edge too!
__________________
Ricky
2012 F150 Super Crew 5-1/2' bed Ecoboost 4x4 3.73 elec. lock diff. Propride hitch
give life. kidney & pancreas transplant 9/9/06
Ingrid-my unofficial '"World's Oldest Streamer" 1909-2008 R.I.P.
richinny is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2014, 11:16 PM   #8
Rivet Master
 
SteveSueMac's Avatar

 
2012 27' Flying Cloud
W , New England
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 5,412
Quote:
Originally Posted by 75TH BAMBI View Post
You just described everything I never, ever want to experience with hitching up a trailer. I would have ripped that complicated monstrosity off after about an hour or so and left it literally in a trash pile. You could have bought a new uncomplicated stress-free hitch, installed it, AND set it up properly it in the time it took just to get that thing aligned properly in your receiver.

Although, I must admit, it's always fun at the campground to sit around the picnic table watching someone try to get hitched up with a Hensley. Doing it quickly and easily on the first 5 or so tries sure does take some amazing talent and patience. As long as you camp on a smooth concrete pad and not a bumpy dirt campsite on an angle (like most real campgrounds in the woods) then you're good to go...but it still takes a true artist to really get it to line up properly on the first attempt.
Jeez - you wake up on the wrong side of the floor this morning? Ever hear the phrase "kicking them when they're down"? You just did it and it sucks in my humble opinion.

There's another phrase - if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

Try that one - it might suit you better.

Good lord.....
__________________
SteveSueMac is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2014, 11:19 PM   #9
Rivet Master
 
SteveSueMac's Avatar

 
2012 27' Flying Cloud
W , New England
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 5,412
Paula - sorry to hear that. What a frustrating situation!

I had something similar with my ProPride (but not a 5 hour ordeal). I've learned some tricks that help and I do think the stinger and box are shaped differently which does apparently help significantly reduce the odds of a stuck hitch.

I wonder if Sean would have some ideas? I think he's made some dropped stingers for some Hensley users before - might be worth giving him a call.

Take care!
__________________
SteveSueMac is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-17-2014, 12:42 AM   #10
3 Rivet Member
 
Reganzo's Avatar
 
2006 34' Classic S/O
Lakewood , New Jersey
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveSueMac View Post
Paula - sorry to hear that. What a frustrating situation! I had something similar with my ProPride (but not a 5 hour ordeal). I've learned some tricks that help and I do think the stinger and box are shaped differently which does apparently help significantly reduce the odds of a stuck hitch. I wonder if Sean would have some ideas? I think he's made some dropped stingers for some Hensley users before - might be worth giving him a call. Take care!
This past August I was camping in upstate NY and I pulled into the camping spot and un hitched our Hensley from our trailer, pulled forward and moved the truck behind the trailer. Then when I had to hitch up, the truck wasn't level and I couldn't get the stinger in right. My neighbor suggested I use the safety chains to wrap around the stinger so I could move the trailer back to allow the truck to be on level ground. Long story short it worked great and I was able to back the stinger in first try. I'm keeping this maneuver in mind if I run into a problem like that again....

Regards,

Reganzo
__________________
Reganzo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-17-2014, 04:35 AM   #11
Rivet Master
 
Foiled Again's Avatar
 
2012 25' FB Eddie Bauer
Vintage Kin Owner
Virginia Beach , Virginia
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 5,883
Too soon old, too late smart .... or .... SOME DAY you're gonna look back on this and laugh...
I'm already smiling. SteveSueMac thanks for the kind thoughts. 75thBambi, I didn't think of it as anything but empathy for my feelings exactly. I struggle a bit to haul the stringer around, but I could have thrown the whole hitch 50 feet! Oh, it's frustrating how I kept doing the same thing over and over and all it took was bout 500 lbs of men to weigh down the truck's rear end. I really appreciate men, but the ones who would make good husbands - already ARE. (Many years ago I had one who wasn't exactly a slut, but close enough. Sigh. ) Mebbe I should go poaching among the widowers.... Looking for? Well let's see, good taste in RV's and, oh yeah, a pulse would be nice. (I try to start with reasonable expectations...)
Anyway I got several good ideas here, and just had an "oh DUH" moment myself. Why the heck didn't I just let about 30 lbs of air out of the truck's rear tires? Sh... sh... sugar! I have a battery operated pump to refill them. AAAAACK~ I am smart, but just not quite as FAST about it as I used to be. Of course raising the front of the truck with the big orange legos isn't a bad idea either. But three men... well people that has some more potential doesn't it?
__________________
Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present.
Foiled Again is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-17-2014, 07:33 AM   #12
Rivet Master
 
Larry C's Avatar
 
1996 34' Excella
Elberta , Alabama
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 745
For what the "HAHA" costs, Hensley should have an attendant on call to come out and resolve their problems....
Makes me like my Reese Straight Line even more..
Just sayin'

Larry C
__________________
Old age is coming at a really bad time!

1996 34' Excella 1000, interior totally redone, 2003 Dodge/Cummins HO, U.S. Gear exhaust brake, Diablo tuner, 115 gallon aux fuel, Bedslide, Airsafe/Reese Dual Cam, and a bunch of other stuff
Larry C is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-17-2014, 07:59 AM   #13
Rivet Master
 
dznf0g's Avatar

 
2007 30' Classic
Oswego , Illinois
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 9,409
Images: 5
Paula, I get it....but once we finally figure out all the geometry, it's a piece of cake....that and a hitchin' camera that makes it really simple to see and understand what's going on AS you back up to within 1" of the head. I put the magnetic camera right on the stinger, just forward of the "ramps" so I'm looking right down the throat of the head.

I wouldn't grind on the ends of any PPP stinger.....I believe you will wind up with sloppy fits and a stinger the tilts up relative to the already sloppy 2.5" receivers (still sloppy with 2"ers). This causes the whole head to be unlevel relative to the truck/trailer frames and screws up the geometry during turns.

Back to your unusual situation...I had to buy one of the flat AS jack foot pads for those sites where the front of the AS needs to be very low. After awhile, I began to recognize when a site is graded where it is necessary for the tongue to be close to the ground in order to hitch up.

Same goes for when the tongue needs to be higher. Two different heights for foot and recognizing the need for lego blocks under the jack....and although it seems counter intuitive, sometimes you need logos and the FLAT foot plate.

I have found that proper hitching alignment starts with proper UNHITCHING alignment. Fortunately, not too many sites are that crappy, in my experience.
__________________
-Rich-

"If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy." - Red Green
dznf0g is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-17-2014, 08:08 AM   #14
Rivet Master
 
dkottum's Avatar
 
2012 25' Flying Cloud
Battle Lake , Minnesota
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 7,716
I've never had any problems hitching our ProPride but do watch backing into difficult sites, try to ensure the alignment will be decent when unhitching. There's some flexibility in head angle and tilt with the w.d. jacks that is useful. I think it's good to back in then pull forward a foot or so to take out any sideways tension before any unhitching, which may be a good idea with any hitch.

Nonetheless, the Hensley/ProPride design is a keeper for us, the towing comfort and safety is remarkable as those who use it know.
__________________

__________________
Doug and Cheryl
2012 FC RB, Michelin 16, ProPride 1400
2016 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4X4 Ecodiesel 3.92 axles

The Truth is More Important Than the Facts
dkottum is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Hensley Arrow Hitch Les Hitches, Couplers & Balls 116 12-14-2015 08:41 AM
Top Rated Sway Control Hitch (Hensley Hitch) Dgresham Airstream Classifieds 0 08-27-2014 11:20 AM
To Hensley or not to Hensley Aquabud Hitches, Couplers & Balls 86 12-22-2010 09:10 PM
Hay box cooker - most economical way to cook? Ganaraska Stella's Kitchen 1 06-15-2010 09:15 PM
Hensley Arrow hitch update-- greasing John Hitches, Couplers & Balls 0 04-17-2002 10:28 AM


Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by




Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:46 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.