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Old 04-27-2008, 09:14 PM   #1
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Using Hensley Hitch with 2007 Tahoe In Bumper Receiver

I posted this as a reply to a question in the thread about Hensley hitches but I think I posted it in the wrong place. Here is my problem:

I just picked up my new 2007 22 ft Airstream ordered with a Hensley Arrow hitch as a result of comments on this BB. However, I can't get the trailer leveled because I have the 8-inch drop tow bar and it is still too high as my vehicle is a 2007 Chevy Tahoe with the factory-made "in the bumper" 2x2 receiver.

Has anybody seen any info about how to adapt? The hitch receiver is about 5 inches higher than one that would be BELOW the rear bumper (or plastic, imitation body trim thingy)?

It look to me that I'd need at least a 10-inch drop tow bar, but Hensley doesn't offer one on their web site. I can get the truck level by putting maximum pressure on the 1000 lb spring bars, but the hitch--and the front of the 22 ft Airstream CCD Int'l still points UP. And the front of the trailer is 8 inches higher than the rear when measured at the side rivets (not the frame.) It tows well but I have only 300 miles on it and am worried about tire wear and weight distribution.

Also it sure looks funny. And it is a "half bubble off level" which, if you are describing a "Vermonter," means he's more than a bit bonkers!

SOMEBODY else must have come across this problem and found a solution.
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Old 04-27-2008, 09:30 PM   #2
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hi pete

i posted a short reply in the haha thread, but will be looking forward to the solutions offered here.

pics are useful too.

cheers
2air'
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Old 04-28-2008, 04:27 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Vermont
I posted this as a reply to a question in the thread about Hensley hitches but I think I posted it in the wrong place. Here is my problem:

I just picked up my new 2007 22 ft Airstream ordered with a Hensley Arrow hitch as a result of comments on this BB. However, I can't get the trailer leveled because I have the 8-inch drop tow bar and it is still too high as my vehicle is a 2007 Chevy Tahoe with the factory-made "in the bumper" 2x2 receiver.

Has anybody seen any info about how to adapt? The hitch receiver is about 5 inches higher than one that would be BELOW the rear bumper (or plastic, imitation body trim thingy)?

It look to me that I'd need at least a 10-inch drop tow bar, but Hensley doesn't offer one on their web site. I can get the truck level by putting maximum pressure on the 1000 lb spring bars, but the hitch--and the front of the 22 ft Airstream CCD Int'l still points UP. And the front of the trailer is 8 inches higher than the rear when measured at the side rivets (not the frame.) It tows well but I have only 300 miles on it and am worried about tire wear and weight distribution.

Also it sure looks funny. And it is a "half bubble off level" which, if you are describing a "Vermonter," means he's more than a bit bonkers!

SOMEBODY else must have come across this problem and found a solution.
Pete,

If this is the reciever in question, I have fielded several questions at work on this subject. As far as I can tell there arn't any aftermarket replacements as yet.

We knew at the the time this would be a problem for some folks. The only solution I am aware of, one of our customers who had a specialty truck shop fabricate a custom drop bar. Don't have any idea what it cost. I'm not positive, but I believe they modified a Reese bar.

Good luck in finding a workable solution.

Bob
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Old 04-29-2008, 07:38 AM   #4
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How about the double receiver (for bike racks and such) turned upside down?
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Old 04-29-2008, 08:13 AM   #5
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I have an '05 Tahoe, and the moment I saw the new design for the '07 models, I wondered if it might present problems for people who pull TTs. I've seen numerous VERY long drop bars (on very jacked-up trucks) for standard hitch applications, that would work for towing boats. But I haven't yet seen any solution for someone who wants to use a WD hitch for a TT.
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Old 04-29-2008, 08:48 AM   #6
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I would place a telephone call to Hensley in Michigan, and see what they have to say about this issue. I have had a HAHA for several years, and have found the company to be very responsive. They even replaced the lower end of my Hensley Arrow last year. They will need to address this problem quickly as there are a whole bunch of the new model large GM SUVs out there.

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Old 04-29-2008, 09:02 AM   #7
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HERE IS THE ANSWER, I think:

After checking with the Hensley company and finding that they are aware of the problem but had no solution yet, I did some research of my own.

I spent some time under my Tahoe with a tape measure and good lighting to examine the whole thing. It seems to me that there is a fairly simple solution providing you have it done by a certified welder. And it looks like GM even considered the possibility someone would need to cut away the phony plastic wrap around trip as they have included extra "tabs" about 6 inches either side of the hitch which can be used to hold everything in place once you cut away the plastic for the hitch modification.

Here is what needs to be done:

1. Cut an 8-inch wide opening in the plastic right under the present receiver.

2. Weld a new receiver directly under the existing one.

3. Weld triangular support gussets of 3/8ths steel to either side of the new receiver and to the bottom of the factory installed hitch system. (These would be about 3 inches high and 5 inches along the top where welded to the existing hitch.) The diagonal length going back down to the end of the 3.5 inch piece would be about 5.75 inches. Steel triangles 3/8ths thick on both sides of the new hitch receiver welding it to the main horizontal framework of the existing factory hitch ought to reinforce it enough to hold anything. (I'd weld both sides of these plates, not just tack them in place.)

4. If it looks necessary, a similar triangular piece could be welded from the back edge of the new receiver, going forward to the two triangular side gusset plates.

I have made an appointment to have this done next week.

I have towed tens of thousands of miles with heavy loads on flatbed trailers and a Chevy 3/4 ton pick up with the 454 engine. And I've experienced various hitch failures, including tearing through the factory right angle bend they make to create the tabs to bolt the aftermarket hitch to the frame. That's 1/4 inch steel but the bend weakens it. Since then the first thing I've done with a new truck and hitch was to have triangular gussets welded into these bends as reinforcement.

I have a big industrial trailer and truck dealer near me who has modified my flatbed trailers before and can do just about anything on construction equipment trailers and over-the-road haulers.

I'll let everyone know how my proposed system works out and I if everything tests ok, I'll make up a drawing for posting here.
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Old 04-30-2008, 09:56 AM   #8
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Here's another solution we've been discussing. Not perfect, but an option.

Your Airstreams have the "A" style coupler, which sits in the middle of the frame (from top to bottom). If you change that coupler to a "B" style, that will get you about an inch and a half.

If you want to gain even more, weld 2" spacers on the tongue for the receiver and the hitch brackets. That's a bit more agressive, but I think the best solution is the coupler change.

We've been in touch with GM and, essentially, they're not concerned with towing issues. It's a tiny part of their overall market. I guess if you only take a $2billion loss, you can afford to snub your customers.

Enough of my griping. I expect Putnam will come up with some nice aftermarket solution as well. I'll keep my ear to the ground.
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Old 04-30-2008, 10:03 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hensley Ron
Here's another solution we've been discussing. Not perfect, but an option.

Your Airstreams have the "A" style coupler, which sits in the middle of the frame (from top to bottom). If you change that coupler to a "B" style, that will get you about an inch and a half.

If you want to gain even more, weld 2" spacers on the tongue for the receiver and the hitch brackets. That's a bit more agressive, but I think the best solution is the coupler change.

We've been in touch with GM and, essentially, they're not concerned with towing issues. It's a tiny part of their overall market. I guess if you only take a $2billion loss, you can afford to snub your customers.

Enough of my griping. I expect Putnam will come up with some nice aftermarket solution as well. I'll keep my ear to the ground.
Since Suburbans and Tahoe/Yukon have always been a large part of the towing segment, I'm actually slightly surprised that they have no concerns about it. Not incredibly surprised mind you, but slightly surprised. As you said, they're losing a ton of money right now, and this design decision never did make sense to me.

Anyway, I'm delighted with my '05 Tahoe Z71 and don't really like the new body style that much anyway, so this issue won't affect me. But in a few years, when I decide to move on to a new TV, I won't even consider the GM SUV vehicles if they haven't corrected this issue by then. After-market solutions are not acceptable to me-- I expect the manufacturer to consider and address these issues so that I do not need to.

Just my $0.02, and it's too bad too because I've had several GM tow vehicles that I've enjoyed a great deal, too.
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Old 04-30-2008, 11:58 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by utee94
Since Suburbans and Tahoe/Yukon have always been a large part of the towing segment, I'm actually slightly surprised that they have no concerns about it...
i am very skeptical of comments made by one vendor about another, and especially when looking for a place to lay blame.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hensley Ron
...We've been in touch with GM and, essentially, they're not concerned with towing issues...
sort of like the concern at hensley about the inadequate safety chain extensions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hensley Ron
...Your Airstreams have the "A" style coupler, which sits in the middle of the frame (from top to bottom). If you change that coupler to a "B" style, that will get you about an inch and a half...
well replacing the coupler would VOID THE WARRANTY on these trailers, so altering the coupler style is a bad idea...

no hitch is worth cutting up a new trailer, it's hensley's problem, so solve it...

i just measured the receiver boxes on 10 new 4x4 trucks in the dealer lot and they ALL were 22-23 inches high,

which is the pin height for the o.p. tahoe...

so it seem the hitch vendor needs a solution at their product level...

instead of passing it of to the vehicle maker, trailer maker or aftermarket vendors.

cheers
2air'
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Old 04-30-2008, 12:09 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2airishuman
i am very skeptical of comments made by one vendor about another, and especially when looking for a place to lay blame.

2air'
Fair enough, but regardless, the new Tahoe's hitch is higher than mine. As an engineer all I can say is that backward and forward compatability should always be a consideration, if you desire to satisfy your existing customer base when you introduce new products.

Sometimes it is not possible to maintain that compatability-- when I make that choice as an engineer or product developer, then I must also accept the consequences of that decision. Simply by making this design decision, GM is conceding that my current set-up does not matter to them.

Perhaps the entire auto industry will move to this higher hitch. If not, then there are other manufacturers whose vehicle will meet my current set-up, even if GM is not willing to do so.

As I said, it's not a concern for me right now, but it might be in the future. At that time, I will go with whatever vehicle meets my needs.
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Old 04-30-2008, 12:16 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by utee94
...Perhaps the entire auto industry will move to this higher hitch...
as i posted the ford superduty 4x4 (top selling tow vehicle on the PLANET) is at that height now too...

it is unlikely ANY vehicle manufacturer is designing any aspect of a new truck or suv to 'fit' hitch vendors,

old hitches, odd hitches and so on, they are called "AFTERMARKET" accessories for a reason...

for virtually every hitch maker, stingers and drop bars come in adjustable sizes or fixed drops of up to 10 and 12 inches....

hensley stops at 8, so who's problem is it, besides the customers?

and this is NOT a new issue.

we have members here who tow with the hummer 2 and need a 10 inch drop...

because it's not available they tow with the trailer nose high and make do....

cheers
2air'
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Old 04-30-2008, 12:28 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2airishuman
as i posted the ford superduty 4x4 (top selling tow vehicle on the PLANET) is at that height now too...

it is unlikely ANY vehicle manufacturer is designing any aspect of a new truck or suv to 'fit' hitch vendors,

old hitches, odd hitches and so on, they are called "AFTERMARKET" accessories for a reason...

for virtually every hitch maker, stingers and drop bars come in adjustable sizes or fixed drops of up to 10 and 12 inches....

hensley stops at 8, so who's problem is it, besides the customers?

and this is NOT a new issue.

we have members here who tow with the hummer 2 and need a 10 inch drop...

because it's not available they tow with the trailer nose high and make do....

cheers
2air'
Okay, clearly history here, and this is your fight and not mine. Carry on.

Cheers.
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Old 04-30-2008, 12:33 PM   #14
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Have you thought about using a drop receiver? Blue Ox makes several types including an adjustable one rated at 10,000 towing wt. and 1000 tongue wt. Between the drop receiver and the Hensley drop hitch, you shold be able to get the right height. Here's a link to the information... Blue Ox Drop Receivers

It looks like you can pick one up for about $200. Google the part number BX88223 and you get lots of hits.
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