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Old 04-09-2013, 08:45 PM   #1
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Hensley question/ issue ?

So we purchased our Airstream last fall & it came equipped with a Hensley (bonus?) So far I'd say I'm happy with it, but, I have a question for those with more experience under their belts.
Granted, we've only had the opporutunity to haul the Airstream a few times over the last 6 months due to the winter weather, but it seems like the hitch is always "cocked" to the right. (curbside) So this seems odd to me. Should'nt it be centered? Especially when going straight down the road? I can lift the little pivoting bar inside the hitch & it allows the hitch to "pivot" from side to side and even when I center everything & hook-up, it seems like when I stop the hitch is to one side. It does'nt pull to either side while towing, in fact, it tows Awesome! My concern is somethings wrong, or is this "normal" ?
Any feedback would be great!
Todd.
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Old 04-09-2013, 09:16 PM   #2
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That is common as when you bring your rig to a stop, you very often cock the wheel as you come to a stop.

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Old 04-09-2013, 09:31 PM   #3
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This is addressed on the HAHA users thread. It is long, but highly useful as a source of information. I'd transfer this thread to that thread (as others might benefit, even though it is addressed; ask the moderators).

Getting the hitch centered might require some background work/verification first:

1] TT axle age and condition. There are threads here on how to check. Age takes a toll.

2] TT axle alignment. Ask your local RV dealer which big truck retailer they send problematic alignment issues to. Have the alignment verified.

3] TT brake & bearing adjustment. No drag from either. Verify this, don't just assume it.

4] TT & TV tire load. Use Chapter Four of this Tire Service .pdf on RV's to properly rule out tire related adjustments (loads and pressures).

TT tires are always to be at sidewall maximum pressure and TV tires are to be Load vs. Pressure "inside" the vehicle manufacturer guidelines. The heaviest tire on an axle determines pressure for both tires. Etc.

5] The hitch. Are all pieces as new? No worn brackets? Etc. See the HAHA guide and manufacturer guide. Taking apart one of these hitches isn't by any means a hard job (just a heavy sonuva . . ) and this confirmation is vital. One never knows the stresses to which a used hitch has been through. Wearing pieces need replacement and a "kit" of commonly-worn bits is available from HENSLEY (and just good to own).

6] As in the HAHA thread, using a certified, segmented drive-on weight scale to adjust the weight distribution is a requirement for best performance. Several passes across the scale can do it (see specifics of how to). The "CAT SCALE" thread is the primer.

The above should be gotten out of the way. Set. Verified.

Finally, adjusting the HAHA so that the TT follows the TV can usually be done by adjusting the length of the strut arms. This is the way I do mine:

- Loosen strut arms

- At the lowest rolling speed possible, put TV in Neutral and use TT brakes to stop the combination. Set TV parking brake without ever using TV service brake.

- From front of TV look underneath and back to TT. Does it appear to be "centered"?

- If so, set struts to "tight" even if they are slightly different in length afterwards.

Pull forward and achieve a light speed (10-mph) and come to stop using service brakes. Check "centeredness" again.

If not as wanted, start over.

NOTE: One must have installed towing mirrors that allow visual convergence at about 200' to the rear of the combination vehicle. Equally, from both sides of vehicle. Use this as a check to hitch adjustment. Many factory towing mirrors or add-ons aren't up to the job . . be certain.

The right mirrors will show up the last bit of "centering" adjustment wanted.

And, as Moosetag indicates, the TT may be a little off after a full stop. Learning to adjust the TT brake controller is useful here. It may still be on one side or the other but one wants it to be the very last moment of TT movement as one comes to a full stop.

Good luck

.
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Old 04-09-2013, 09:40 PM   #4
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I found that a small wireless camera is great for observing the centering of the hitch head while driving down the road. Assuming all mechanical issues are OK, per above, adjusting the struts will center everything.
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Old 04-09-2013, 10:05 PM   #5
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The hitch head, by design, shifts to one side or the other depending on how you brake and stop (i.e. on a curve).

Having said that - a hitch head that is not mounted exactly square to the trailer frame can also cause it to track to one side when travelling on a straight and level stretch of highway.

The Hensley manual states the struts "are correctly adjusted when the Upper Unit is held firmly in a position perpendicular to the centerline of the trailer". This is easier said than done but the manual does go on to qualify that "it doesn't have to be absolutely perfect!".

To ensure that the hitch head tracks on centre when travelling on a straight piece of highway we've developed our own little homegrown practice to fine-tune the strut adjustment. This is not in the manual - but is not hard to do.

Once the hitch is ready for its 1st of the year dry run one of my sons or a neighbour will ride in the back of the of the tow vehicle observing the behaviour of the hitch on a straight (and quiet) piece of road - advising whether the head is tracking on centre or not - and if - not which side it is tracking on and by how much (i.e. a little or a lot). The "adjustment" is to pull over to the side of the road and lengthen the appropriate strut by a 1/4 or 1/2 turn - then shortening the other strut by the same amount. The cycle of driving, observing and adjusting each strut is repeated until the hitch head is tracking on centre.



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Old 04-10-2013, 07:13 AM   #6
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OH!!!!! Mine has to be perfectly straight......but that's my problem.....anal retentive, you know.

I do think being centered does help eliminate the "Hensley Bump".
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Old 04-10-2013, 07:34 AM   #7
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Thank you Guys, Many things I did'nt even consider was the effect of the trailer brakes ( which is currently an "issue" being addressed. I also recall the previous owner telling me there was a rebuild kit in the Hensley bag. Maybe one week-end I'll devote to tackling that beast. It certianly looks like it could stand some TLC, but that in itself, is a whole different post. I will add however, just after we purchased, I contacted Hensley Mfg. to see about maybe sending our very dated looking unit in for maybe some sort of "rebuild" or "refab" service. Only to be told they offered no such service. Which surprised me, considering the cost of these units new. I guess I'll be the one updating the looks & performance of this little known "wonder", currently it looks like scrap metal attached to the front of my rig!
Thanks again everyone!
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Old 04-10-2013, 07:45 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by truxpin View Post
Thank you Guys, Many things I did'nt even consider was the effect of the trailer brakes ( which is currently an "issue" being addressed. I also recall the previous owner telling me there was a rebuild kit in the Hensley bag. Maybe one week-end I'll devote to tackling that beast. It certianly looks like it could stand some TLC, but that in itself, is a whole different post. I will add however, just after we purchased, I contacted Hensley Mfg. to see about maybe sending our very dated looking unit in for maybe some sort of "rebuild" or "refab" service. Only to be told they offered no such service. Which surprised me, considering the cost of these units new. I guess I'll be the one updating the looks & performance of this little known "wonder", currently it looks like scrap metal attached to the front of my rig!
Thanks again everyone!
Search the forum on hensley rebuilding, or hensley repainting, etc. Lots of info out there. It's not that difficult and we are always here to help.
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Old 04-10-2013, 10:15 AM   #9
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Another thing that is easier to set up on the ProPride. Just set the yoke in the center using a tape measure, and you're done.
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Old 04-10-2013, 10:32 AM   #10
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Another thing that is easier to set up on the ProPride. Just set the yoke in the center using a tape measure, and you're done.
I'm not too sure about that. I would not assume any trailer tongue or frame or axle(s) are exactly geometrically true. I found mine to be off in several dimensions by 1/16" to 3/16". These inaccuracies will make any measured hitch install off a little and result in the head running a bit off center while being pulled straight.
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Old 04-10-2013, 10:50 AM   #11
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I've installed six ProPride hitches (actually one three times), and three more using the tape measure, and they all have run straight and true.
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Old 04-10-2013, 11:19 AM   #12
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By camera while running down the road? That's what made me suspicious and caused me to measure the tongue accurately, independent of the hitch. Never felt anything and everything looked fine until I left my hitchin' camera on. It ran just a little off center (more of the "Humpy" part of the arm between the box and head showing on one side). Hitch is dimensionally correct....the A-frame and coupler attachment is not.
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Old 04-22-2013, 05:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by truxpin View Post
So we purchased our Airstream last fall & it came equipped with a Hensley (bonus?) So far I'd say I'm happy with it, but, I have a question for those with more experience under their belts.
Granted, we've only had the opporutunity to haul the Airstream a few times over the last 6 months due to the winter weather, but it seems like the hitch is always "cocked" to the right. (curbside) So this seems odd to me. Should'nt it be centered? Especially when going straight down the road? I can lift the little pivoting bar inside the hitch & it allows the hitch to "pivot" from side to side and even when I center everything & hook-up, it seems like when I stop the hitch is to one side. It does'nt pull to either side while towing, in fact, it tows Awesome! My concern is somethings wrong, or is this "normal" ?
Any feedback would be great!
Todd.
The causative factor is imbalance between the braking of the tow vehicle ((TV) and the trailer. The brake controller must be set so that the trailer brakes apply slightly more braking action than the tow vehicle, thus holding the trailer back from the toe vehicle keeping the Hensley straight. When you get right down to it the tow vehicles brakes are working harder than the trailers to stop the forward motion.
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Old 04-22-2013, 06:36 PM   #14
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That is true Griff, and it goes without saying, but that is only one (perhaps the biggest) contributor.
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