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Old 08-16-2015, 01:44 PM   #29
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I always get a kick out of the pp/h fan boys when they make absolute fact statements that are nothing but opinions. 😂
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Old 08-16-2015, 01:57 PM   #30
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Old 08-16-2015, 04:06 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Echelon73 View Post
Dan, I started with a conventional hitch (Blue Ox Sway Pro) and then ended up switching to a used ProPride I found on Craigs List. The Sway Pro was certainly not bad, but I do think the ProPride is more stable. Maybe we can work out a deal when you get your Airstream. You can borrow the Sway Pro to try it out and let me use one of those kayaks of yours during that time...��

Thanks man, but I will be buying a new hitch. Which one is motivation for this thread. Will follow up and research the design once I narrow my focus. Got too much on my plate now to study and compare all designs.

As for kayak, would love to take you out sometime. Badin or Tillery of course are options. One of my favorite floats near you is Uwharrie River. If your familiar, I put in at low water bridge and take out at, or 1.2 miles downriver from 109 bridge. Crystal clear water and lots of wildlife, some white bass, but rainfall dependent float. Saw a bald eagle last time. Beautiful float with little usage.


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Old 08-16-2015, 04:51 PM   #32
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Just to clarify my earlier post, I had a ProPride for two + years. I bought it used on Craiglist for $1,100 and set it up myself, and I did zero it in using the truck weight scales. It's a fairly easy process, just take it slow. It's a very good hitch. Zero sway. Rock solid. Sean at ProPride is great with customer service.

The problem is that backing in to my driveway requires an over 90 degree bend of truck-to-trailer. When you bend the ProPride over 87 degrees you push the hitch bracket out of alignment which then causes the infamous 'hensley bump' when you brake. I got tired of having to realign the hitch.

The other problem is hooking up the hitch. You want the car and trailer roughly in straight alignment to make it somewhat easy. Well, we do a lot of boondocking, often we end up in spots that are not long enough to allow the car and trailer to be roughly in straight alignment. When that happens hooking up the ProPride can be a real pita.

So i went back to the old Reese dual cam. It backs up into spots the ProPride would struggle with and it hooks up easy without being somewhat straight to the trailer. And it is quite a bit lighter weight and does not hang down so low. And i have zero sway. None.

So the Reese dual cam works best for me.
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Old 08-16-2015, 05:07 PM   #33
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So what's this about the trailer tracking the TV with the Hensley / PP hitches? Clearly not the case with my PP. The trailer ALWAYS cuts the corner tighter then the TV. You have to go wide on the turns to stop from hopping curbs or hitting stop signs. What are you all saying here?
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Old 08-16-2015, 05:11 PM   #34
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So what's this about the trailer tracking the TV with the Hensley / PP hitches? Clearly not the case with my PP. The trailer ALWAYS cuts the corner tighter then the TV. You have to go wide on the turns to stop from hopping curbs or hitting stop signs. What are you all saying here?
They don't. Trailer tracks inside tv.
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Old 08-16-2015, 05:15 PM   #35
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They don't. Trailer tracks inside tv.
Agreed, but check the second paragraph of post 19.
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Old 08-16-2015, 05:21 PM   #36
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Our first trailer was a 30' Fleetwood Prowler with a Reese hitch that we towed once a year on the interstate for 400 miles. It was a nightmare--serious trailer wag anytime a truck was near. It's one of the major reasons that we bought an Airstream when we retired and were going to be doing closer to 12K miles/year.

Based on the recommendation of a full timer friend with an even larger Arctic Fox box, we intended to purchase a Hensley. But our Airstream dealer was adamant that we not do so--he said that with the superior suspension and lower center of gravity, we wouldn't need it. They not only didn't like it for the cost, but also for the greatly added tongue weight. He installed and balanced an Equalizr 4 point for us, and we love it both for the handling and for the ease of setup. We did a bit of experimentation with weight distribution to find the perfect "sweet spot," (all of which is clearly explained both in the manual as well as with the friendly and knowledgable techs at Equalizr). We do experience a slight degree of movement in extreme conditions--passing or being passed by a large vehicle with a significant difference in relative speeds. But this movement is not sway--it's just having the front of the tow vehicle moved outwards by the "bow wave" of an eighteen wheeler and then the trailer moving outward as the bow wave hits it, with the effect of the tow vehicle then moving back inwards. It's the same thing you feel (without the push back in the other direction from the trailer as you complete the pass) in your vehicle without a trailer attached.You can definitely feel all of this in the seat of your pants, and you must resist the natural tendency to react. Instead, the slight push outwards is countered by the move back as the high pressure moves down the side of your rig and the whole rig returns naturally to its centered position--as long as you don't do anything to mess it up!

We're very aware that the major possibility for difficulty occurs while going downhill too fast as stated earlier in the thread. We always increase the trailer braking strength through our brake controller's base setting when going through mountainous terrain. We also try to avoid the brakes entirely and use only engine braking whenever possible. This requires knowing your transmission's shift points well so that you can anticipate and downshift before you're going too fast to do so. If the slope is unmarked and increases and you have to select an even lower gear, a firm steady braking to slow down the slight amount necessary to "fit" into the lower gear seems better than either a hard brake or a long, slow brake, as the first may tend to swing the trailer loose and the second can overheat the brakes. We of course make sure that our speed is particularly reduced when going into a downhill curve--the middle of the curve would be a really bad time to decide that you need to slow down. We rarely slow below 40 mph, but if we need to, we are quick to use our hazard flashers, just like the 18 wheelers.

Making the trailer brakes a bit more aggressive than the TV brakes (by increasing through the brake controller) seems to work very well to balance the rig. The trailer can then serve a bit like a "sea anchor"--taking care of itself and pulling gently back against the TV and therefore physically keeping the rig in line. It's much like applying the front and rear brakes of a bicycle when going downhill--too much front brake and the rear gets light and...you know the rest. But also, if you brake the rear only and very hard on a bike, it can skid out sideways. So a nice balance, but favoring the rear (the trailer brakes) feels extremely solid.

We have had two close calls in our six years of towing the Airstream where someone pulled out directly in front of us from a side lot while we were doing 55 on a two lane highway and had to whip onto the shoulder in order to avoid collision and then get quickly back onto the main pavement before the shoulder might run out or get funky. In both cases, my wife (an excellent driver) was at the wheel, and she knew enough to go nowhere near the brakes. We were both startled by how well the Airstream/Equalizr combo worked--the sensation of handling was similar to a very heavy, very long but excellently balanced sports car.

Andy Thompson of CanAm in Ontario is the go-to guy for hitch setup. He prefers Reese's over Equalizr's because the Equalizr bars are square in section. When you go through a deep dip or swale, there is little or no additional flex, and he feels that this puts a heavy momentary load on the tongue and TV frame. On a Reese, with the flattened front end of the bars, they serve more like an additional leaf spring in the TV suspension and give a bit. He likes the Hensley and PP's too--his only qualification for those is that downhill, they may tend to swing around to either side of the center line of the TV which varies the trailer's push on the TV--and everybody's been talking about how downhill can be your most vulnerable time.

For us, one of the things that scared us about the Reese was using the handles to crank the chains into place. I was convinced that one sleepy morning I'd klutz out and have it spring back and crack a forearm. The Equalizr is just SO EASY and works so well for us--without adding a ton to the already very heavy tongue weight on our 28' International.

So there are pros and cons for each. All of them work, but all need to be properly adjusted. If you're going to do it yourself, would highly recommend having someone check it over for you the first time!
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Old 08-17-2015, 12:47 AM   #37
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Gecko,

I've been reading here for a few months, hours a day. That is one of the most insightful replies I've read. I appreciate your time and your reading comprehension skills. I'm in need of the 'feel in seat of pants', 'bow wave', and 'push back' insights. Thank you for sharing. Can't build a house without a foundation. In this instance, I can't appreciate a WD hitch without having some idea of what it's design is intended to reduce or eliminate.


Dan
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Old 08-17-2015, 12:55 AM   #38
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My ProPride observations:

My father had a lumber mill. I have been pulling trailers since I was about 13 years old. My father also purchased a new Argosy in 1970, followed by an Airstream in 1979. I am very familiar with hooking up, setting up, and pulling travel trailers with weight distributing hitches.

I purchased my Airstream in 2004. A 1986 31’ Sovereign. I pulled it with a 2001 Chevy Duramax/Allison crew cab (short bed) for seven years using a new Reese Straight Line Dual Cam hitch. I enjoyed 32,000 miles of trouble free towing. I simply hitched up, put the truck in drive, and looked out the window.

In 2011, I replaced the Chevy with a Ford Excursion. In doing so, I gave up 16” of wheel base, (153” vs 137”). Using the same Reese hitch, I was unpleasantly surprised in the difference between the two vehicles when it came to towing the Airstream. It wasn’t so much an increase in sway, as it was the entire rig being pushed about when being passed by anything as large a mini-van.

I upgraded the springs on the Excursion to Ford F-250 snow plow springs. I added a rear anti-sway bar. I attached radius arms to the rear axle, welding them to the front spring perch. I replaced the 16" wheels with 18" wheels. I increased the rearward tilt of the hitch ball in order to get more arch in the torsion bars. I increased the size/weight rating of the trunion bars. All these changes helped somewhat, but the towing experience for the next 9000 miles was always somewhat stressful. Every time I saw an 18 wheeler coming up to pass me, or it was me wanting to do the passing, I would have to think through how my truck and trailer would be affected, and position the truck appropriately.

This past winter, I purchased a used ProPride hitch for $1200. I installed the hitch this spring and had a 180 mile round trip test drive over the 4th of July holiday. Two weeks later, I drove 600 miles pulling the trailer on a second trip. The difference in handling is night and day. I can say the driving experience (handling wise), while towing with the ProPride is comparable to driving without the trailer. One handed driving is easily accomplished whether I am the passer or the passee. Traveling while pulling a trailer has once again become an enjoyable experience. My first test run pulling the trailer with the ProPride, I drove at speeds up to 88 mph, passing cars and trucks. I then slowed to 65 mph, (which is my normal towing speed), and let them all pass me. Not a wiggle, not a buffet; nothing but straight line tracking.

Is there a learning curve when it comes to hitching up the trailer? Yes, however, it is not any more difficult than before, just different. Have I had to adjust a measurement here and there? Yes. However, I find maneuvering with the ProPride easier.

Sean Woodruff, the owner and engineer behind the ProPride hitch is a top notch guy. He manufactures the hitches 30 minutes from my home. After buying my hitch, (from a Craig’s List add), I disassembled, cleaned, and painted it. The hitch contains four sets of large wheel bearings. As I tried to put it back together, I could not remember how the washers stacked up. I called Sean at 6pm hoping for some guidance. His only question was, how long would it take me to get to his shop. The two of us sweated in his shop until 9pm. He reassembled the hitch, (with several new components), and didn’t charge me a dime. I did, however, supply the cold beer.

Considering I have maybe another 25 to 30 years of Airstreaming ahead of me, the ProPride, to me, is worth every penny.

Wheel base for a Dodge MegaCab is somewhere around 160”. I would be confident pulling a 30’ trailer with any quality weight distribution hitch.

Lincoln Navigator wheelbase 120-130”. Again, any quality weight distribution hitch, set up correctly, will pull a 30’ trailer safely. However, a ProPride or Hensley, I believe, would make for a much less stressful, more enjoyable experience.

I may not always agree with the statement that getting there is half the fun, but getting there is certainly a requirement.
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Old 08-17-2015, 01:04 AM   #39
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Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences. I also appreciate the model specific references as I lack the insight to compare many trucks on a continuum. To remind you guys where I'm at regarding trucks, I'm looking to buy a mega cab simply because my dog and kids will fit in back. I realize many of you are making more thoughtful tow vehicle purchases with other truck features in mind.

Dan
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Old 08-17-2015, 03:55 AM   #40
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I spent hours reading this forum before buying my first ever RV. At that time, there was very little chatter about the ProPride which is Jim Hensley's second design. I planned on towing the selected trailer with my existing 2007 Mercedes ML320 CDI diesel.

I selected a 2013 25FB International Serenity. The readings on hitches directed me to the decision for a Hensley hitch.

I knew the Mercedes receiver needed to be reinforced, so drove to CanAm in London, Ontario for the fix (a 4,400 mile round trip done in 7 days). They also shortened the Hensley stinger about 4" and slightly bent it downwards to help preload the weight distribution hitch.

I installed the Hensley onto the 25FB and started home driving in LA traffic. Once on the interstates, I cruised at 55 (the posted speed for vehicles with trailers) and gained some confidence. Due a flat tire on the Mercedes, I was delayed about five hours and continued around 11 pm. As I crossed into Arizona, the speed limit jumped for everyone to 75. I was still doing 55. The semi trucks blew past at 80 or faster. I was not blown all over the road. The rig stayed straight, but I was aware of the bow wave. No issues.

A different Hensley stinger was acquired with some drop when I shifted to the Dodge Ram 2500HD. No issues towing.

When I ordered the Classic, I elected to go with the ProPride. Once again no issues with the 31' Classic. It took me two days to install the PPP hitch as Sean made some custom fillers to fit my frame and sent them to me.

The Hensley was stored and is now installed on the 23D which is being towed by the Mercedes. The 23D is a more appropriate load for the car both in weight and size and I had no issues driving it the nearly 2,000 miles from the dealership to CanAm and then the modification shop in Texas. I was on both interstates and secondary winding rural roads and the modest mountains of the northeast and had no handling issues what so ever.

I find the ProPride easier to use, but the Hensley still does a good job.

The only really important tool for me was the factory installed backup camera installed on both of the tow vehicles to help with alignment when backing into position.

Sometimes there are special prices from the manufactures of both the ProPride and the Hensley.
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Old 08-17-2015, 06:48 AM   #41
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Agreed, but check the second paragraph of post 19.
I know...I did...and I disagree, they actually track a bit more inside than a regular non-PPP hitch. But it isn't even an issue consideration.
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Old 08-17-2015, 08:23 AM   #42
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Thanks for the insights Switz.

Nice to hear from a few of you about Sean, and how he supports his product.

That alone is quite valuable to me, limited insights on WD and all.

The apparent ease of hook up with Equalizer and Reese is attractive as well. Might be good balance of attributes for us weekend warriors.


Dan
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