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Old 03-13-2010, 03:45 AM   #1
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Hensley Hitch Unacceptable?

Andy from Inland RV seems to say that the Hensley Arrow is an unacceptable hitch for the Airstream due to the rating of their tension bars.

(Quote from Andy: "Installing the Hensley, in your case, would further the problem you now have, since they do not have small rated bars, not to mention the cost.") From post: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f396...s-57860-3.html (Post 32).

Is the same true also for the Pro-Pride hitch? Is it also not acceptable for use on an Airstream?

Note, that discussion thread was regarding aluminum fabric tearing around the battery boxes, which according to Andy may be due to too much tension on the bars.

I think this is a really important subject for those of us who:
1 - Want our Airstreams to last for decades
2 - Full-time in an Airstream
3 - Have it on the road a lot of miles
4 - Use Hensley Arrow or Pro-Pride hitches for the best possible sway control on a 34' Airstream
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Old 03-13-2010, 06:31 AM   #2
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I am guessing here. It may be that Andy sees your 2500 HD as having too stiff a suspension and the use you put the trailer through as being too rough for the trailer. The available bars for the Hensley are fairly stiff and will transmit the rougher ride of your truck to the front of the frame of your trailer. Your truck will tolerate more than the average amount of weight from the trailer, so setting the bars to weight shift just a small amount of weight might help. The Airstreams spring rate is very low by comparison to your truck and was designed so as to easily take up the shocks of a moderately rough road at speed without damaging itself or the contents.
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Old 03-13-2010, 06:39 AM   #3
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i dont know about older airstreams but my 2007 seems to have a pretty stout frame on it.i tow with a dsl excursion with a hensley and 1400lb bars.dealer claimed the ex has a soft suspension so they recommended the heavier bars.iadded timbrens to the rear to cushion the stock springs on the truck.dont get much bounce when towing and seems to be pretty smooth.i adjust the weight distribution between 2nd notch and 3rd notch on the barrel,approx 2 3/4 marktowed this trailer since new about 15k miles,havent noticed any seperations?inmho i wouldnt want this heavy trailer too soft running behind me.i think the roads in general beat up trailers more than this hensley setup ever could,but i am not an engineer.
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Old 03-13-2010, 06:57 AM   #4
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The ONLY thing unacceptable about the Hensley is the lousy, ORANGE PAINT.
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Old 03-13-2010, 07:01 AM   #5
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I have a hard time believing the bars are too stiff. One of the many attributes of the Hensley hitch is that the weight bars can be infinitely adjustable. I use my HAHA on a vehicle that has very squishy springs and another vehicle that has 3/4 ton truck springs. The only difference is in the amount of tension that is put on the bars. I use minimal amount with the truck but the other vehicle the bars are tensioned until I achieve a level trailer and tow vehicle. I have the 1000 lb bars.
I certain the PP hitch would also be the same.
The sway contol (elimination) portion of the hitch works all the time regardless of the tension on the weight bars.
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Old 03-13-2010, 07:30 AM   #6
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06 2500 3/4 Burb. AutoRide w/o auto leveling, Hensley w/1000lb bars.
Tongue weight 960-1190lb depending on load.

Your profile here states Chev 2500. Your post in the "no different" thread, Dodge 2500, a bit stiffer than the Chev. Which is it?

We couldn't be more pleased.
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Old 03-13-2010, 07:37 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xonvldz View Post
i dont know about older airstreams but my 2007 seems to have a pretty stout frame on it.i tow with a dsl excursion with a hensley and 1400lb bars.dealer claimed the ex has a soft suspension so they recommended the heavier bars.
I have always understood the opposite to be true.

A long wheel base with stiff suspension requires high rated bars to transfer forward the weight..

A shorter wheel base with soft suspension needs a lower rated bar to transfer the weight forward.

The physics related to this seems to make sense.
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Old 03-13-2010, 08:00 AM   #8
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I don't know about any statement(s) made about the Hensley and it's bars. What I can tell you is that I have been using a Hensley since Lucy was brand new. Lucy is a 2005 25FB. She weighs in at 7400# ready to camp. We tow her with 2500 Suburbans. In the last 3 1/2 years we have towed Lucy over 50,000 miles in all types of terrain. The Hensley has performed flawlessly in all circumstances. There is no sway, ever. Passing trucks and heavy cross winds mean nothing.

Some would have you believe that using a Hensley will tear up your Airstream. We have not found that to be the case. In our 50,000+ miles of towing Lucy, we have not had a single rivet come loose or pop out. We have not seen any evidence that the ride is too harsh for the Airstream.

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Old 03-13-2010, 08:22 AM   #9
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Whether heavy WD bars contribute to early failure of fasteners and structural components is the subject of disagreement. After asking questions and reading the myriad threads on this topic, it is my conclusion that excessively stiff rear axle springs in the tow vehicle contribute to this problem but heavy WD bars do not. I have ordered a ProPride hitch with 1400# bars for use with my new trailer.

ProPride offers hitch bars rated for 600, 800, 1000, and 1400 pounds.

I believe Hensley now offers a similar selection of WD bars. They don't list them on their web site, you have to call. The smaller bars are sold with the Hensley "cub."
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Old 03-13-2010, 09:29 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Secguru View Post
Andy from Inland RV seems to say that the Hensley Arrow is an unacceptable hitch for the Airstream due to the rating of their tension bars.

(Quote from Andy: "Installing the Hensley, in your case, would further the problem you now have, since they do not have small rated bars, not to mention the cost.") From post: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f396...s-57860-3.html (Post 32).

Is the same true also for the Pro-Pride hitch? Is it also not acceptable for use on an Airstream?

Note, that discussion thread was regarding aluminum fabric tearing around the battery boxes, which according to Andy may be due to too much tension on the bars.

I think this is a really important subject for those of us who:
1 - Want our Airstreams to last for decades
2 - Full-time in an Airstream
3 - Have it on the road a lot of miles
4 - Use Hensley Arrow or Pro-Pride hitches for the best possible sway control on a 34' Airstream
It is unfortunate, but I believe you are going to have to make your own decision on this. Since you made reference to "airstream-not-any-different-than-the-others". I am assuming that you read the entire thread.

Andy and his followers are 100% sure he is right. I and others are convinced he is wrong. So you are going to have to choose which path to follow. I would suggest you talk to the Airstream factory service people about it. I would also suggest you talk to the hitch manufacturers.

This question has been asked in many forms on this forum over and over again. The result is always the same. Two diametrically opposed views. so I would suggest that you go outside this forum to research it further.


Regards,
Ken
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Old 03-14-2010, 12:09 AM   #11
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Hogwash!!!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Secguru View Post
Andy from Inland RV seems to say that the Hensley Arrow is an unacceptable hitch for the Airstream due to the rating of their tension bars.

(Quote from Andy: "Installing the Hensley, in your case, would further the problem you now have, since they do not have small rated bars, not to mention the cost.") From post: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f396...s-57860-3.html (Post 32).

Is the same true also for the Pro-Pride hitch? Is it also not acceptable for use on an Airstream?

Note, that discussion thread was regarding aluminum fabric tearing around the battery boxes, which according to Andy may be due to too much tension on the bars.

I think this is a really important subject for those of us who:
1 - Want our Airstreams to last for decades
2 - Full-time in an Airstream
3 - Have it on the road a lot of miles
4 - Use Hensley Arrow or Pro-Pride hitches for the best possible sway control on a 34' Airstream
Hi, this is Hogwash; I don't own a Hensley, I don't use a Hensley, I don't need a Hensley, and I don't want one either. But you have a large truck and a large trailer. [both heavy] And the Hensley bars are adjustable, meaning 1400 lb bars don't necessarily have 1400 lbs load on them. A Ha Ha or P P would be a good match for the size of your trailer and tow vehicle. Airstreams flex and they never should have made an un-re-inforced square hole in the front of the body near the coupler.

This is my opinion and I'm sticking to it. It's your truck, your trailer, do as you wish.
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Old 03-14-2010, 05:39 AM   #12
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Thanks

Thanks for the early discussion on this topic (and to those who wrote private messages).

I am concerned about aluminum fabric tearing and front end separation (my coach has neither, but I want to keep it for decades). It seems to me that AS has a design problem that for some reason it doesn't want to fix.

The idea that I should use 600# tension bars is confusing. OK, I understand that the torsion bars need to stabilize the suspension on the TV so that the front end is not light. However, my Chevy 2500 and Dodge 2500 both have suspensions that are more than up to the 1000# tongue load even without torsion bars.

I am suspicious of Andy's statement that Hensley Arrow (and by implication ProPride) hitches will damage to my 34'. I'm also suspicious that he seems to imply that the conventional industry recommendations of matching tow vehicle ratings to a trailer are bunk. I seem to understand him to say that I should be using a 1500 series truck to tow a 9800# trailer, Huh? If I use my 2500 truck, my AS will be damaged! Am I drinking cheap wine?

What's the real story? Should the tension bars equal the tongue weight or just some small portion of that weight, as I understand Andy to say?

Andy??? Sean Woodruff? Anybody out there care to comment? Please explain the physics of tension bars? I know they transfer the load to the front TV wheels, but what is the formula for calculating the correct tension? And why is AS building coaches that rip aluminum fabric around square-cut corner cut-outs? Why won't they round the corners on their cut-outs? Surely they could do that, hell if they can round the entire top of the trailer, they can't round a box cut-out? And lastly, How, How can I match-up the TV, Trailer and Hitch to maximize the life of the AS?
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Old 03-14-2010, 06:13 AM   #13
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As I understand hitching, from my nearly 30 years of towing with a WDH, there are three parts. The truck weight, the trailer weight, and the transfer of tongue weight to the truck axles and trailer axles. With a conventional stick-built trailer that has a stiff ladder frame, that tongue weight can be re-distributed without penalty as the frame will accept the stresses. Even if the WDH bars are over-rated, and truck weight ends up being distributed with the tongue weight to the trailer axles, the trailer frame will probably handle it without a problem, and the additional weight will just settle onto the trailer frame and suspension.

Airstreams are different because they don't have a stiff frame. As a matter of fact, the 34' frame shows significant 'droop' without the shell attached. They're truly monocoque construction with the frame stiffness being derived from the shell. So, where in a stickie, all of the stress is merely applied to the ladder frame, in an Airstream, those stresses are distributed across the shell and frame members. The weakest part of that assembly are the rivets holding the shell to the frame. When the entire system is stressed, the weakest parts fail; hence the shell/frame separation, or if the skin has been weakened by ill-conceived hatch placement, skin tears occur at stress points. . Even worse, modern 'trailerites' have demanded all the latest amenities; corian countertops, heavy plush upholstery, and all manner of other 'luxo' items; all of which add significant weight to a system that was never designed to handle that kind of load. Looking at your 'GVWR' rating tag, you'll notice that your GVWR is only a few hundred pounds (IIRC, 700 lbs or so?) over the curb weight of the trailer (GVWR being the sum of the three GAWRs and the tongue weight). That load rating is significantly lower than what the same size stickie could carry. For example; the GVWR on my Bigfoot 25' is 7500 lbs; the curb weight a svelt 5400 lbs (as equipped). That gives me about a TON of cargo capacity... vs. your 700 lbs.

With your 34', you have almost the heaviest tongue weight Airstream produced (the 31 and 34' slide models being the only ones that are heavier). There is a much more delicate balancing act with the Airstream than a stick built trailer in trying to 'get it right' when distributing tongue weight, and the tow vehicle suspension becomes much more important. In fact, if your suspension is too hard, your trailer will absorb not only the bumps at the axle, but your tongue and the front of the trailer will flex when jarred by the pickup. So... Andy is, in fact correct (as much as it pains me to say this) when he says that Airstream hitching issues are unique. It's because of the unusual construction of the trailers.

How much is too much? Unfortunately there are no hard-and-fast rules here, and frankly most of the sales people out there are clueless about this issue. Honestly, it's been my experience that most of us here know more about the product than the average Airstream salesman.

So... I had a '94 Limited 34' tri-axle that I successfully towed for several years with a Y2K Excursion with 1,000 bars and a Reese Dual-Cam. I didn't feel over-hitched at all for the weight of the trailer, tongue weight, and suspension of the Ex. I'm not sure that 800lb bars wouldn't have been in order for a 3/4 or one-ton Superduty simply because of the stiffness of their suspensions. This is obviously NOT a one-size-fits-all issue. And much depends on the kind of roads you drive as well. If most of what you drive is interstate with few jarring potholes or expansion joints, then you'll probably tow trouble free for years and years regardless of your setup. If, OTOH, most of what you drive is choppy back roads like we have here in Iowa, your hitch setup becomes a little more critical with an Airstream.

Good luck in figuring this out.

Roger
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Old 03-14-2010, 09:34 AM   #14
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Secguru,
I'll toss in my experience with a 1,400 lb bar Hensley, '06 2500 dodge diesel 2wd and a '91 34'.

With your trailer and a dodge TV, I believe if you get the 1000 lb bars you might be ok but the bars will be cranked to the max and the truck will be on the limit of nose light and tend to wander a BIT.

On my trailer, I crank up the WD bars to the 3rd mark (thats also as tight as my brand name drill will tighten them even WITH the tongue jack extended, in otherwords, I'm torquing the bars pretty good!). At that point I still have NOT returned the front axle of the truck to it's unhitched weight. The truck drives good even with the front 180 lbs lighter. BUT with the WD bars slightly looser, at the 5th mark, the truck has lost 300 lbs on the front suspension and wanders down the road.
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