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Old 09-14-2020, 04:56 PM   #1
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F150 'Pro Trailer Backup Assist' with Hensley Hitch

We recently purchased a new TV - 2020 F150 with Ford's max tow package, which includes 'Pro Trailer Backup Assist'. I've read through the instructions, and watched the how to video on YouTube a few times here.

The procedure seems fairly straightforward, except that they refer to taking measurements relative to the hitch ball. Given that we have a Hensley, I wasn't sure if that's still valid or not.

Does anyone else out there have this backup assist configured with a Hensley, and if so, did you need to change any of the measurements for setup?

For bonus points - how does it work? Worth the effort? I'm fine backing the trailer up myself without the assist. I'm curious if it makes backing up any easier?

Thanks in advance for your advice and opinions!
Brawny
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Old 09-14-2020, 06:02 PM   #2
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Many will scoff but I love the backup assist on my F150. There are threads on Airforums concerning it. I mounted my sticker on a 2x1 bar attached to the bottom of the propane tank.

I doubt it will work with a Hensley, though, because the pivot isn't what it expects.
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Old 09-14-2020, 07:28 PM   #3
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It works really well with my cargo trailer; and small trailers are the hardest to back up. It is very easy to set up. Ford has some videos on-line on how to do it. This is my second F150 with it. I have set it up on my Propride (similar to Hensley) and it doesn’t work very well. I made the pivot point where the stinger goes into the receiver. It does work when you want to back up straight and make small turns. I just used it backing up into my pole barn after I have straightened out. But you can’t make large turns; at least I can’t. It loses the sticker too easily. Some say they put the sticker on the LP tank cover. I may try that. But if I can use it just to back up straight that’s fine with me. I really don’t have a hard time backing up the Airstream. But I thought I would give it a try since it works so well with my cargo trailer.

Again if anyone has a better solution I’m all “ears.”
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Old 09-15-2020, 10:24 AM   #4
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Thanks for sharing your experience. I'll set up my utility trailer for sure - it has a tendency to jack knife, so the Pro Assist will be useful.

Curious if you think the issue with the AS is the placement of the sticker, or the position of the "ball" for measurements. I wondered about measuring to where the Hensley covers the ball, or possibly midway between the cams on the Hensley, as this is where the pivot point seems to be...

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Again if anyone has a better solution I’m all “ears.”
I am too. :-) We're heading out on a 2 1/2 week vacation on Friday, stopping at 6 or 7 different provincial parks here in Ontario. This would be a good opportunity to test out the pro assist!
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Old 09-16-2020, 10:57 AM   #5
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Ditto what daquenzer said above. Has worked fairly well w/
my 25’FC w/ ProPride and both previous F-150 & current F250. Most helpful for longer straighter backups. Doesn’t replace need for operator to be reasonably proficient at standard backing.
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Old 09-16-2020, 12:45 PM   #6
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My dealer installed mine on my new 2020 Globetrotter with Equalizer hitch for F250 - but warned me that the system does not “like” the reflection from the propane cover, which turned out to be accurate - he said some people cover it with something non reflective - I opted to just learn to reliably back up old school style.

Also (unrelated) I spent a lot of money on Ford’s integrated customer installed rear camera and TPMS - only to find out that because both are wired (vs wireless) it is a huge job to install including drilling holes all over the AS body - nope.
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Old 09-16-2020, 02:41 PM   #7
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As you surmised the back up assists assume the articulation point is stationary but with the Hensley type hitches the effective ball point varies with articulation angle. As the angle increases it fails to track the strip location or better the strip is not where the trigonometry in the program expects it and it provides poor guidance or just stops functioning. I can't think of a good way to compensate.
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Old 09-17-2020, 08:53 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by BayouBiker View Post
As you surmised the back up assists assume the articulation point is stationary but with the Hensley type hitches the effective ball point varies with articulation angle. As the angle increases it fails to track the strip location or better the strip is not where the trigonometry in the program expects it and it provides poor guidance or just stops functioning. I can't think of a good way to compensate.
I figured this was the case, but wondered if there was some sort of workaround. I'll probably set up the measurements as Daquenzer has and use it only for long, straight backups. Anything else, I'll do without the system. At least it will work on my utility trailer.
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Old 09-17-2020, 04:03 PM   #9
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I'm still thinking about this. I think I'll get my pencil and slide rule out and maybe I can give you some advice. Off the top of my head it will have to be that you do something slightly different from what the computer tells you to do.
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Old 10-18-2020, 09:34 PM   #10
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I have been using the Assist when backing into my Pole Barn. I straighten out, and then use the assist to back up on the long straight backups. It is great for making small corrections, but not big turns with the ProPride. I backed up into the pole barn about twice as fast using the Assist.
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Old 10-19-2020, 08:38 AM   #11
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I don't know if this is worth the hassle or not, but you should be able to make this system work by fastening the target to a thin lightweight board like a yardstick then attaching the board to the truck receiver top allowing it to swivle and let the other end slide between fixed rails on the trailer frame.
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Old 10-19-2020, 08:44 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daquenzer View Post
I have been using the Assist when backing into my Pole Barn. I straighten out, and then use the assist to back up on the long straight backups. It is great for making small corrections, but not big turns with the ProPride. I backed up into the pole barn about twice as fast using the Assist.

I live on a fairly busy street. Our driveway is ~50' long from curb to the garage door. Its wide enough to park 3 vehicles side by side, but that doesn't leave much room for opening doors. My challenge is to try and get the trailer in relatively straight and over to one side of the driveway on the first pass, before people get annoyed at having to wait for more than 30 seconds. I'm pretty good at it, but thought the backup assist might make it easier. Sounds like that's definitely not the case since I'm backing in at 90 degrees to the direction of travel.


I have a utility trailer for taking brush to the dump, etc and just bought a 12' cargo trailer to use as a winter camper (once we put our AS to bed for the winter indoors). I think I'll have to settle for using the backup assist on both those trailers, and use my own skills for backing up "Wanda" when we're camping.


Thanks to everyone for your input and advice!
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Old 10-19-2020, 01:08 PM   #13
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Interesting Idea

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Originally Posted by BayouBiker View Post
I don't know if this is worth the hassle or not, but you should be able to make this system work by fastening the target to a thin lightweight board like a yardstick then attaching the board to the truck receiver top allowing it to swivle and let the other end slide between fixed rails on the trailer frame.
That's an interesting idea, Brian,but I'm have a bit of trouble visualizing exactly what you are describing. Any chance you could elaborate?

For anyone who is still wondering about these hitches, the whole "point" of the Pivot Point Projection (3P or P3) linkage is to move the effective pivot point to a spot somewhere near the rear axle of the tow vehicle. The exact point depends on the distance between the rear axle and the receiver. It makes the trailer behave like a 5th-wheel (or semi-) trailer when towing, but not when backing up.

~Bruce
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Old 10-19-2020, 05:23 PM   #14
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So the backup assist programming expects the target angle to converge just beyond the truck bumper at the assumed ball location as it sweeps the horizontal plane. When it doesn't converge the program throws its hands up a quits, or gives poor guidance. So rather than fixing the target on the trailer, force the target to have a fixed center of action just beyond the bumper by placing a thin lightweight on a pivot at that point and let the free end slide to take up slack at a fixed point on the trailer frame. The guidance will still be just a tad off but I think it might work.
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Old 10-19-2020, 08:25 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BandLAir View Post
That's an interesting idea, Brian,but I'm have a bit of trouble visualizing exactly what you are describing. Any chance you could elaborate?



For anyone who is still wondering about these hitches, the whole "point" of the Pivot Point Projection (3P or P3) linkage is to move the effective pivot point to a spot somewhere near the rear axle of the tow vehicle. The exact point depends on the distance between the rear axle and the receiver. It makes the trailer behave like a 5th-wheel (or semi-) trailer when towing, but not when backing up.



~Bruce


I’ll politely disagree. The linkage setup in the Hensley design hitches does not care if you are pulling or backing. It still works the same...
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Old 10-26-2020, 03:46 PM   #16
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Thanks, Brian. I appreciate the thought you have put into this and the time taken to describe it. Your description makes sense to me, but I still cannot quite visualize this. What are you thinking about in terms of "...a pivot at that point..." and is the free end of the lightweight board (presumably towards the TT end) sliding or is it moving through an arc, as if it was attached to part of an A-frame on a standard ball-hitch? If you have actually figured out a way to make the Ford Pro Trailer Backup Assist work correctly with a pivot point projection hitch, I think a LOT of folks on this forum are going to be interested in your solution. ~Bruce
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