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Old 01-29-2016, 10:13 AM   #1
1 Rivet Member
Redmond , Washington
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 6
Newbie advice on hitching

This is my first post after extensive lurking over the past few weeks. Im hoping the collective wisdom of this forum can help us understand if we did our homework before we pull the trigger.

We are very close to tying the knot on a 30 Flying Cloud FB Bunk (with a slight chance we will end up with a 27 International). We never towed anything nor, for that matter, drove a truck. Our main concern is safety and we are absolutely OK with being overzealous or even paranoid.

Truck-wise we are close to buying a 2016 GMC Sierra 2500 HD. We are going with the Duramax as we dont mind diesel and value the added peace of mind of exhaust braking. My hunch is that it should be plenty of truck for the trailer, but feedback is definitely most welcome.

We are pretty much lost on WD hitches and sway control though. Plenty of choices, plenty of mistakes to be made, no clear winner, yet apparently a crucial piece to feeling safe down the road. The dealership recommends Blue Ox somewhat implying its built for Airstream and sort of the official equipment: I like that they would be installing and stand behind it, but at the same time Im wondering if a Hensley would give us more peace of mind as we learn our ways in towing a big rig. We could definitely use some advice from this community.

Looking forward to our new Airstream and to more posts to come!

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Old 01-29-2016, 10:44 AM   #2
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2012 25' Flying Cloud
Battle Lake , Minnesota
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 7,716
Hensley/ProPride effectively places the trailer pivot point forward on or near the truck's rear axle. Their can be no sway leveraged to the truck's steering axle, possibility of sway is eliminated.

All others have the trailer pivot point at the coupler. The distance between coupler and the truck's rear axle is a lever to leverage sway forces forward to the truck's steering axle. Sway can happen.

There is no "standard" hitch for Airstream. The dealer would like to sell and install the hitch they stock and make some money on. Can't blame them for that, but they should be a bit more honest. Most dealers should be able to install Hensley/ProPride, good hitch installers surely can.

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
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Old 01-29-2016, 10:52 AM   #3
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1986 31' Sovereign
Miami , Florida
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One thing that is guaranteed on Air Forums is that you will get widely divergent opinions on hitches, tow vehicles and tires. Hard to sift through all the chatter.

A 3/4 ton diesel pickup will tow your trailer easily.

As for your hitch, the Pro-Pride and Hensley, by design, are touted by their owners as the ne-plus-ultra in towing apparatus with no chance of sway, easy setup etc. . The folks who praise these devices are very strident about their superiority. There are caveats -- they are very heavy but with a 3/4 ton tv maybe a non-issue, they are single-sourced (break something and wait for the FedEx truck).

The mainstream weight distribution systems from Reese, Curt, Blue Ox etc. all have their proponents and all seem to work fine as long as they are installed, set-up and maintained properly. I use a Reese Straight Line and it works fine.

The Anderson is different. People either hate it or love it with some claiming they tried it and it failed completely while others have been using it successfully for years now. It is very light, inexpensive and unique in its properties.

This really isn't rocket science. Maintain your gear, drive carefully, take all the advice you receive (including this) with a grain of salt.


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Old (enhanced with "male pattern baldness") Sovereign
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Old 01-29-2016, 10:58 AM   #4
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1978 31' Sovereign
Texas Airstream Harbor , Zavalla, in the Deep East Texas Piney Woods on Lake Sam Rayburn
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One more vote for the Hensley.

I pull with an F-250 Diesel, and I assure you that the Hensley/PP hitch would be tough to beat when mated to the trailers you mentioned.

Hensley offers great phone assistance, and with a bit of practice is really easy to hook up. I like the rotary screw means of putting the weight distribution bars in tension as opposed to lifting up and latching an over center chain.

We found it easiest to hook up when I guide Mary to the hookup point rather than using the camera built into the license plate on the truck. Hook up utilizing only the rear view camera is certainly possible, but we nail the stab every time working together.

I am sure you will be more than satisfied with the Hensley.

"Suck it up, spend the bucks, do it right the first time."

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Old 01-29-2016, 11:09 AM   #5
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Upper St Clair, PA/Titusville, FL , PA-Summer/FL-Winter
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It is enough truck. Pro Pride Hensely eliminate sway. I've used none, don't recommend, Reese which are OK and now Equailzer. Equalizer allows sharp turns while backing, easy hook up and very little sway. Less than half the price of Pro Pride or Hensly.

2017 30' Classic - F350 6.7 Diesel Crew
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Old 01-29-2016, 11:18 AM   #6
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2016 25' Flying Cloud
Jupiter , Florida
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I am still fairly new at this too, having towed the AS home (over 1000 miles), and on 3 weekend trips to FL state parks. The dealer I purchased from recommended the Equal-i-zer hitch. I decided to buy it on my own and have them install it. I have been very happy with the setup and how it tows.
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Old 01-29-2016, 11:23 AM   #7
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1991 34' Excella
Princeton , New Jersey
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your truck is more than adequate for the job.

There is no one hitch that is made for any given trailer.

While the Ha Ha has many supporters I think you will find it a difficult system to use in anything other than flat terrain.

What ever hitch you go with I would suggest you check the installation as follows since most dealers have no idea of how to set one up correctly.

Pull the trailer to a level terrain, having towed at least 200 ft in a straight line. Disconnect the trailer, using painters tape mark a reference height the front and rear fenders, reconnect the trailer and measure the heights again. The front fender should not show a significant increase in height nut rather be equal to a close to the first measurement. This insures that the hitch is doing what you want and thus providing weight distribution. While the final amount of weight transferred can not be defined in a single number because the number of variables involved in different rigs. The other consideration is once completed the trailer should be as close to level as possible. A 1/2 in difference front to rear is acceptable.
2004 Excursion 4x4
1991 34 ft. Excella +220,000 miles, new laminated flooring, new upholstery, new 3200 lbs axles

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Old 01-29-2016, 11:54 AM   #8
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2012 27' Flying Cloud
W , New England
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Congrats - and prepare yourself for tons of opinions.

Here's mine as someone who bought a 27FB Flying Cloud a few years ago as his FIRST trailer ever - and - FWIW, a Chevy Silverado 2500 Duramax.

1) find a local CDL (commercial driver's license) training center and see if they offer an RV Safe Drivers course - maybe other organizations near you would have them too. Best investment we made. First weekend after having the rig, we spent in that class and I can't recommend it highly enough.

2) Tons of threads in the forums about every hitch known to man. I've only ever used one - the ProPride which is the second generation of the Hensley manufactured by a different company. The Hensley designed hitches operate differently and are stellar at distributing weight and preventing sway. Having said that - many brands of hitch provide great towing experience. Read the threads - any of the major brands will likely serve you very well. For me personally, if the old PullRite was available for my truck, id have gone with that as the pivot point is literally at the truck rear axle making it like an upside down 5th wheel. Exceedingly stable. The Hensley designs virtually project the pivot point near the rear axle and provide rock solid stability. For me - it would be nothing else at this point - your mileage may vary so just know the pros and cons of every choice and why you make the decision.

3) keep a tick list of warranty items - you get 2 years to fix stuff and stuff will need fixing.

4) camp like crazy. Best investment I ever made - hope you feel the same way

Good luck!
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Old 01-29-2016, 11:56 AM   #9
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2016 28' International
Albuquerque , New Mexico
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 122
Congratulations on being so close to your purchase!

That truck would be an excellent choice. You'll absolutely love the exhaust brake.

Our local dealership primarily installs the Reese Dual Cam hitches but was perfectly willing to install the ProPride hitch we ordered. If you choose a Hensley/ProPride over the Blue Ox, they should likewise be willing to install it for you. If not, many people here have regularly talked about installing it on their own (I'm pretty sure you can download the instruction manual for the Hensley, so you can see if you would feel comfortable with the process).

It's true-- those of us with a Hensley or ProPride typically love our hitch to the point that we probably sound as though we'd marry it if we could, but the one person I've spoken to who had a Blue Ox installed on his trailer (same combination as us, a 28' International paired with a 3/4-ton diesel) was very happy with it.
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Old 01-29-2016, 12:27 PM   #10
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2016 30' Classic
Austin , Texas
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Posts: 43
We are new to the Airstream. Bought 30' and the same tow vehicle you are considering. We also went with the ProPride. While I know there are many ways to accomplish the same thing, I am very happy with the setup we have.

Most of all, just get started. All the pieces will fall into space. Enjoy!
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Old 01-29-2016, 12:30 PM   #11
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2015 27' FB International
2006 25' Safari FB SE
2004 19' International CCD
Oak Creek , Arizona
Join Date: Feb 2007
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All the above hitches will work. But to make any of them easier to hook up, order your truck with a backup camera.
This is the strangest life I've ever known - J. Morrison

2015 Airstream International Serenity 27FB
Chevy Silverado 2500HD Duramax Diesel

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Old 01-29-2016, 02:13 PM   #12
1 Rivet Member
Redmond , Washington
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 6
Thank you all for the great advice. I will ask the dealership if they can offer the PP/HaHa as an option: I would be quite nervous setting it up myself. Should that not be the case, and should we decide we really want a Hensley-type hitch, would it be safe to take delivery of the rig and tow it to a center who would be able to set it up? And while at it, any suggestion on such shops in the Seattle area?
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Old 01-29-2016, 02:32 PM   #13
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2015 28' Flying Cloud
2014 25' Flying Cloud
Waxahachie , Texas
Join Date: May 2014
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Good luck on your decision. As seen on the thread, many options exist. I have used an Equalizer for over 15,000 miles on a 25FC and a few on my 28FC, then switched to a ProPride on the 28 and have pulled it about 15,000 miles. I love the ProPride. Caught in a severe storm with 50-60MPH cross winds and still managed well with no sway. White knuckles, but no sway.

As a response to those that say it's difficult to hitch in un level sites, I tend to disagree. Yes, it takes a bit of time to understand what to do but it's basically, align the head unit angle to the stinger angle and all is well. I think folks forget you can adjust the head unit easily, up or down by adjustment of the weight distribution jacks. Align, back in and all is good.

Again, good luck on the decision and welcome to the forum.

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Old 01-29-2016, 02:39 PM   #14
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2012 25' Flying Cloud
Battle Lake , Minnesota
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I would pressure them to install it, it's not hard at all, the ProPride we have is designed to be owner-installed. A couple hours labor should be enough if they've not done one.

If ProPride you'll have to buy it directly from ProPride and can have it shipped to your dealer for installation, if they agree. Sean, owner at ProPride is extremely accessible and will work with you or the dealer. I would be surprised if he hadn't already.

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
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