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Old 03-30-2008, 09:22 AM   #1
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My Hensley Rebuild

Hello everyone, This is my second Hensley Hitch. The first I bought used a year ago. That one was a few years old but I put it for sale after selling my Travel Trailer. We are in our 30s and work different schedules so that we dont have to put our 17 month old in day care. We sold our camper in the intentions to buy a new larger one but held off due to the amount of time we actually used it (hence the sale of my hitch). We thought of doing the tent camping thing since we only used it a hand full of times each year.

Some months later, I started thinking of what we are going to do with the dogs plus the added work setting up camp. I didnt want to make payments on something just sitting in the drive way most of the year. So, I decided to start looking for a used older AS. Something solid that I can polish the outside and slowly remodel the inside. I am pretty handy and can redo pretty much anything but I dont want to get into structure. I looked at a couple and they had bad leaks were the entire floor would have to be replaced. I have read that the shell has to be lifted off to do it right. Not to mention fixing the leaks that started it all. Still looking but want to get something 25 - 30 foot range. Since we were talking about getting another camper, the first thing I did was start searching for another used HA. One popped up and hour away. The guy was looking to get 1200.00 out of if but he ended up taking 1K. So I made the drive and picked it up. I had the 2" bar (which I wanted) but I also still had my 4" bar that I bought a while ago for my last one.

The hitch is a mid 3000 series. Jarrod from Hensley looking it up and it was 1998 or 1999 (cant remember). The hardware was in pretty bad shape and on collar on the frame bracket had to be drilled out. I dont know if this guy had made a bad turn or installed it wrong but 2 of the strut bar pin were bent bad and the pins for the spring bars were ready to snap. The jerk fittings were crushed from screwing them in too far. The spring bar u bracket showed some wear as did the lower jack tubes. So I ordered all new collars, pins, clips, jerk fittings, U bolts, spring bar u bracket, and lower jack tubes. Later I figured out that I could have just grinded the lower tubes and inverted them since they dont connect at the jack via the last hole. They were only 3.50 each so I will just retire these to my spare parts bag with a lot of the other stuff. The jack tubes and spring bar brackets had normal wear. The jerk fittings were screwed in to far wich caused them to be toast.



I started to clean it up and gettig it ready to repaint. I took the spring bar bushing off and noticed that it had a lot of wear. I called Jarrod back to order a new one. This wear is also normal also. The hitches have weak points that are designed to wear so you can replace low cost parts. I also asked about the barrel screws. I wanted new ones but decided to pass at the 9 dollars each since the only reason at the time was that I like the looks of the zinc plated better than the painted ones like mine had. I figured instead of the 20 bucks, I would just blast and repaint them. It wasnt until a few days after I received my bushing in the mail, that I noticed that the previous owner must have had a problem with it and welded one. As you HA owners know, the only thing holding our trailers to the truck are these two barrel screws. The guys weld looks good but Im not willing to trust it. Who is to say he didnt have it hot enough and it just looks good.



Before I got on the phone once again with Jarrod, I figured I would hold off a bit to make sure there isnt something else I need and just order one more time since I dont own stock in UPS .

I kept wondering about the inside workings of the hitch. It was 9 or 10 years old and I feared that the grease was dried up. Grease seals dont last forever. I figured I would get brave and pop off the covers and take a peek. I started with the bottom ones so that it wouldnt show if I scratched the cap. Well I did sratch the cap on the first but learned that if you wrap your screw driver in about 4 layers of duct tape, it wont marr it. Just keep working the edge tapping it with a hammer. They are harder to get off than wheel bearings but not as bad as I thought.



I wouldnt suggest you folks start messing with your newer HA hitches. I would only do this if your hitch is old like mine. HA does this when they rebuild them so if you have a remanufactured HA, this was already done for you.

Taking the covers off revieled that I was getting water inside my bearings. See the white color on the grease? The bearings are all (8) Timken LM48548s. I popped the seals off and cleaned up the bearings. I am replacing 3 that had the water in them. I was going to replace the race as well but I pounded and couldnt get it out. I almosted just regreased these 3 bearings but got a good deal on ebay for 6 delivered for 25 bucks. Thats cool since I have 3 spares for down the road. These bearings dont spin at 15000 RPM like a trailer bearing so as long as they turn without binding they are fine. I am going to use Mystik JT-6 multi purpose grease to repack them. I read that its a really good lube for low speed normal temp. Had to order a case and will pick it up next week (only 20 bucks for 10 14oz tubes). I am one that thought high temp was better grease but some guys that really know their lube explained that this is totally wrong. For stuff like wheel bearings and hitches, it is way better to use a low temp grease. It lubes better when its for its operating temp. The grease seals are Transcom 171255TB (Dexter 010-019-00 or National 473336).







If you can repack and install wheel bearings, taking a HA apart is not new territory. Actually, HA are built to never need it since they use bearings that are way over rated for the job as well as they are only being used to turn 180 deg once in a while. I just didnt like the idea of water in there so I stripped it apart. I figured I would to a total rebuild and give it a nice paint job. I also got some new stickers from HA. I took off the serial very carefully with a razor blade. Wish they offered a service to send the old sticker in to get a new one. I am thinking about scanning the original then doctor it up via photoshop and have it printed printed by a boat graphics shop. I could just reuse it but I dont want a faded sticker on my newly rebuilt hitch.

Im not sure about the color or what paint I am going to use. I am looking at POR15 right now but that stuff is expensive. Also, that dark grey that some of you have used is really growning on me. POR15 doesnt have it in their 2 part hardnose paint but they do have the Orange.

I will try to update the post with more pictures and progress.. I also posted this in the looong HA tread by request of 2AIR..
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Old 03-31-2008, 08:42 AM   #2
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Everyone has their hobbies!

Great work, Mike. You're right, the hitch is designed so that repair or refurbishing can be done inexpensively. We build 'em like tanks, but even tanks wear out with use. On the other had, we've got customers who claim over 500,000 miles on their hitch with nothing more than standard maintenance.

I'll have Jarrod take a look at your post. By the way, just e-mail at ron@hensleymfg.com and I'll send you a jpg file of the logo.
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Old 03-31-2008, 10:46 AM   #3
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After that level of work and testomony anyone else would have sent you the decal for free.
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Old 03-31-2008, 12:53 PM   #4
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I believe he did get them for free. But, as a Hensley hobbyist, he wants to mass produce!
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Old 03-31-2008, 01:52 PM   #5
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Thanks Ron, I will do that. I dont have any intention to change my serial number, I just want to get a nice new one printed with my serial. I was going to do it on my printer but thought that the sun would fade it within a month. Thats why I was thinking about these boat graphics place since they dont fade as much. I figured that you guys dont do this due to having the serial numbers are already printed by a print shop. I was able to get it off without tearing it up so at worst case, I can just reuse the old one.

Yes, Jarrod did send me the warning and logo stickers which I appreciated. You have a top not employee there. I havent had that level of customer service in a long time. He knows his hitches.

If I was the original owner, I probably wouldnt have even taken it apart. But after I seen the welded barrel screw and bent pins, I didnt want to take any changes. This hitch should last me a life time.
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Old 03-31-2008, 03:34 PM   #6
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I will second that notion that Jared is a top notch employee. I ordered a couple of parts from him as I am refurbing my ebay purchase. He also explained the disassembly of the hitch so I could repaint it.
Great pics by the way!
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Old 01-09-2011, 10:26 AM   #7
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Update

Here is what the end result ended up looking like. I got a few questions about it so I will post some pics.

Didnt end up finding that Airstream. Had to settle on the Jayco. Maybe someday. Just too much money for us right now for what we wanted. Plus the bunks work out good for the family. Hope to still stick around and talk hitches with you guys.







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Old 01-09-2011, 11:46 AM   #8
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Looks great - and who said you need to own an Airstream to hang out here?

Looking forward to seeing you around here as a fellow member and who knows - eventually you may swap your Jayco for an Airstreamo...
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Old 01-09-2011, 12:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JFScheck View Post
Looks great - and who said you need to own an Airstream to hang out here?

Looking forward to seeing you around here as a fellow member and who knows - eventually you may swap your Jayco for an Airstreamo...
Thanks..

I love to work with metal. I have always wanted to build my own TT so maybe next time that's the course I will take. I just didn't have the time right now to play around with it. Who knows, if my alum skills get good enough, maybe I will do it like an airstream. If not it will look like a cabin with some modifications of course. One thing for sure, it will be the only one like it and it will last a lifetime.
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Old 01-09-2011, 12:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeb9550 View Post
Here is what the end result ended up looking like.
Fantastic! Did you say you love working with metal and want to do a few more Hensley's? I'm willing to donate
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Old 01-09-2011, 01:09 PM   #11
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Smile Zerk!

The grease fittings are ZERK (not jerk!) fittings...LOL...Just want to give Oscar Zerk is due billing!

Mike
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Old 01-09-2011, 01:14 PM   #12
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Metal fabrication. If you can repack wheel bearings and can handle a paint can, you can do it. The hardest part of the entire job was getting the new grease seals in. I messed up a few before I got them in.

I was going to make my own Hensley type of hitch for my utility trailer. Thats kinda what I do, tinker with metal scraps on useless stuff. Being 5x10 and used to make Home Depot runs 2 miles away, there is no way it needs it. I just thought it would be cool. Taking the HA apart, you realize how simple it is. I admire guys that apply simple principles and produce something that works so good.

Also forgot to add. I bought my trailer used and at the end of last year. I had to buy new frame brackets since my Jayco uses some weird coupler. Anyways. I towed it once with the regular sway control it came with. That was the last time for me. I ordered them and installed it before the next and last trip. Wow, what a difference. On my last trailer, I went from a Dual Cam to a HA, the difference was noticeable but not like this. The last trip was so nice and relaxing. I took it off and stored it in my Hitch cabinet (I have a lot of hitch stuff) for winter. I need to learn to sew and make a cover.

Not sure if you guys noticed the new Serial sticker. Make it from an online sticker place. Looks exact. The one thing that HA couldn't sell me. Bought a few spares. I know I got carried away...
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Old 01-09-2011, 05:42 PM   #13
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How about picking up some of the old beat up Airstreams out there - bring them back to life - make some money while some of us other "fans" get to appreciate them vice just rotting in some back field somewhere...

Perhaps fix one up, use it for a bit, sell and go to the next one. You already have the Jayco so maybe a few smaller ones at first?

Anything to keep the Airstreams out there alive and kicking...
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Old 01-09-2011, 08:34 PM   #14
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Nice, very nice looking work.
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