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Old 02-03-2019, 09:26 AM   #1
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Dike , IA
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Hensley/Propride vs F150 upgrades

New here, but have been reading for quite some time. Seems to be a lot of great information about the Hensley/Propride hitches compared to other forums.
I am in the in-between, weird range of TT and TV relationship where its mostly ok, but it could be better sometimes.

I will start with the facts, and then the questions.

TV: 2016 F150 XLT Sport, Max tow package, 3.5 EB. 3.55 rear end. Purchased new to my specs.
Payload: 1720
Tow: 11,500
GVWR: 7000
GCVWR: 16,900
Truck loaded for camping: 5950# (remaining payload is 1,050) This includes current hitch, also knowing some of the TW is transferred back to the TT axles, about 12% in my case.

TT: (not a shiny box) 29' box, 33'-9" tip to tail.
UWR: 6,920
Loading for camping: 7,550
TW (as measured with a sherline scale) 850#, this did not include the hitch, just under the ball coupler.

Currently using a Equalizer, 1000# rating.

In general the combination tows pretty well until the wind picks up. Anything below 10-15 mph winds it goes really smooth. Once winds climb up to 15 and into the 20s, it really gets impacted. And in the midwest, its almost always 15 and above. Slowing down to 55 or below is the only way to control it. We tow about 5000 miles a season, and I put about 15k miles on my truck a year so 2/3 its unloaded daily driver.

My solutions I have arrived with to remedy the stability and towing comfort, in order of cheapest:

1. I have been doing it for 6 years, continue to deal with it and change nothing. Perhaps play around with the loading and hitch. Sitting at about 11% TW right now. Could increase some and see.

2. Do the above, but also add/change tires to LT rated and add shocks/active suspension to firm up the ride. about $1400

3. Do #1, but also change the hitch to a Hensley or Propride. about $2900

4. Go to a 3/4 ton truck and keep the E4 hitch. Current truck is half paid off, so not a fan of this option for starting over. Would go with a lightly used RAM 2500 or F250 in this situation, gasser to keep costs similar to what I pay now. (this is not a diesel debate).
I am well within all of my capacities on the F150, so this would be more of an ultimate stability thing. The payload bump would be a good bonus here that could be useful if we need to bring more adults with us. Currently myself, wife, young daughter and 2 lap dogs in the cab. Toys and some wood in the back. But I limit what I can put in the bed due to PL.

I am currently leaning most on #3 based on all of the great things I have read about these hitches, but my truck will need new tires in about 10-15k miles. In which case I would go LT no matter what if I keep it.

So my questions are:

Has anyone had a similar truck and trailer combination and did similar upgrades to the truck and had good results?

I am assuming the answer from most will be get the hitch, but just curious on different options and opinions.

thanks!
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Old 02-03-2019, 10:06 AM   #2
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I had a 28' international Airstream towing with an F-150 and equalizer hitch. It towed very well. I added a propride hitch with 1400# bars and it towed even better. I did not have a sway problem with either.

I now moved up to a 30' Classic and an f-250 diesel. I originally had some sway. The trailer is 7800#. I ask Sean at Propride about the situation and he said at 30' lengths and the Classic model, there seems to be a small issue with sway. Interesting! We tightened up more on the jack stands and I fill my fresh water tank full and have all but fixed the situation, but at times it is still there and needs your attention.

That said, I would not rely on a Propride as your only solution. You need to find out what is wrong with your current configuration and correct it first.

Try adding more weight on the tongue. 850 seems light for that size trailer. You are not greasing your bars to stop noise are you? That would defeat the sway control.
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Old 02-03-2019, 10:18 AM   #3
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What tire pressures are you running? Try pumping up the tires on the F150 and Travel Trailer to maximum sidewall pressure. Even with my F250, I get some "comfortableness" in stronger winds when at recommended tire pressure (65/70 PSI). Going to maximum tire pressure (80 PSI) stiffened up the sidewalls and stopped the uncomfortable wind buffeting.

I would also try moving weight forward in the travel trailer and cranking up the weight distribution bars. Maybe you need heavier bars? Is your F150 front fender height the same when towing as non-towing? Have you done a three-pass weighing? I had to move up to 1500# bars with 940# of tongue weight to restore my front fender height and front axle weight. The combination of more air pressure and increased weight distribution fixed my ride in higher winds.
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Old 02-03-2019, 10:23 AM   #4
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Hensley/Propride vs F150 upgrades

Does the F-150 have a Panhard rod as part of the rear suspension? These usually are parallel to the axle, and run from a bracket on one side of the axle across the vehicle to a bracket on the body. It has the effect of keeping the rear axle stiffly aligned left to right to work against sway forces. May be something to look into adding.

Stiffening up the suspension agains sway forces might be part of the solution.
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Old 02-03-2019, 10:27 AM   #5
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Seans advise is where to start...ck your weights and WD settings.
If the TV has adaptive sway control try turning it off.
It may not be the trailer or the PP. The BCM could be overactive and applying the TV brakes.

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Old 02-03-2019, 11:52 AM   #6
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thanks for the replies thus far.

Try to answer most of the comments:

First off, towing in general it pulls pretty good. I never feel unsafe, just need to slow down some in higher wind situations. Cruising at 60-65 takes care of 80% of the trips. This is mainly why I feel a superduty truck upgrade isnt really needed. Passing semis do not tend to bother it that much, but then again I pull to the right in my lane when I see one coming behind.

I have tried to fill my P rated tires to about 43 psi (rated at 45 max) on a 4 hr tow. I THINK that helped, but the wind wasn't that bad that trip either.

I too was surprised at the low tongue weight. The TT has a wardrobe slide in the front bedroom, so typically they are higher TW than normal. I also have 2 30lb tanks. TW in the brochure is 834, so I was surprised to see mine at 850 loaded. This was without water, but my tanks sit over the axles. It does have a rear bunk and rear outdoor kitchen, which is heavy. It has the larger fridge, microwave, pull out cooktop, sink, and cabinets so that is probably all reducing TW some. I weigh 200 lbs, so I experimented with the scale. I recorded a video of the scale with me walking in and sitting on the front bed, and then walking to the center, and then to the rear. The scale climbed about 150# to 1000. Standing in the center and in the rear had almost no effect on the scale. I will try to load it at about 900 to 950 lbs and see if that can help. Problem is I really do not have that much stuff to add or shift up there.

I actually also have a E4 rated at 1200 lbs that was my fathers before he passed. It does need to be restored some with new bolts since its about 8 years old so I was planning on seeing if the heavier hitch would help out any.

I do not grease the bars...I do grease the points where Fastway says too.

When hitched, my front lifts about 1/2"-5/8". When WD is engaged, it is restored to original height within 1/8" of the fender. I do not really feel like I need more WD at the moment. Higher TW will need to be readjusted.

I have been on the scale to only know the weight of my trailer and truck. At the time I could not get the several different readings I needed due to how busy they were. I plan on doing that when snow melts so I can get to my trailer.
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Old 02-03-2019, 12:05 PM   #7
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Just my opinion - but I think your AS is too long for a half ton pu. You are probably within the towing and tongue specs on your truck but 33 feet is pretty long for a 1/2 ton. I suspect what you need is a heavier truck to stop the sway. Our 25FB matches up to our Ram very well but longer then that I really think a 3/4 ton would be safer.

btw, you have an awesome basketball team this year, being originally from Iowa I try to keep up a little bit.

Here is to a great summer season with your AS!
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Old 02-03-2019, 12:06 PM   #8
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I have been constructing my "Hensley Hitch Blog Post" for nearly a year now. What it boils down to is basically this: when it works, a Hensley hitch is the best thing going. The rest of the time it's a nightmare. I have read more than once on this forum about people with a Hensley hitch who carry a "back up hitch" for when the Hensley fails. I am now in this camp (a Hensley that is my "real" hitch with a cheap chain version in the cargo hold). I have had the Hensley fail me on three significant cross country hauls. That said, when driving across Kansas with 70 mile an hour cross winds, I can barely tell my 25 ft. Airstream is behind me. After more research, I think my next step will be giving an Equalizer a shot, but my hopes aren't very high for a "magic bullet" in the world of hitches.
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Old 02-03-2019, 12:40 PM   #9
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ok, to make things easy I will just say if I go with a "superhitch" then it will be the Propride. I see tons of great things about it, and hard to find anything bad. Hensley...I can find plenty bad, as well as plenty good. Support for the PP seems to be far superior. Plus I like the design better.
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Old 02-03-2019, 12:41 PM   #10
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First - go to the CAT or similar vehicle scales and establish a baseline set of axle weights for your ready to travel loadout.

Next - move as much gear and provisions to the area above the trailer axles and as low as possible. Sway amplifies with weight in the back of the coach because sway control has more mass to control when it is farther from the axle pivot point. Only light weight gear should be in aft storage. On the TV, all heavy gear should be between the axles. It's the same concept. Keep weight out of the ends.

Now, go back to the scales and verify that your TV axles are loaded to minimum design requirements. Hitched steer axle weight should be very close to or more than solo steer axle weight. Hitched drive axle should not be overloaded or significantly less than the steer axle. If your weight distribution is off, adjust as required.

Next step is to test (one parameter at a time) - is more weight or less helpful on the steer axle (likely balance between steer and drive is best) - is more or less tongue weight helpful (likely somewhat more) - is more or less tire inflation a help (make sure you stay within the load requirement range).

By this point, you will have found that adjusting your EQ hitch is a pain. It is also not the best design for sway control as sway control and weight distribution are dependent. You need an independent adjustment system.

A PPP hitch is the best modification you can do to impact trailer sway. You should not upgrade, only if you can't afford the expense or can not accomodate the addition of hitch weight. The PPP adds about 100lbs. Yes, the adjustment is independent. Note, it is not always an adjust and forget system.

Rig tuning can always get better. You are starting with a box. Square edges high in the air are impacted more by wind than low curved edges. You purchased a tow vehicle with a tall profile and narrow suspension mounts on the rear axle. Your path forward is to lower the coach and tow vehicle within the constraints of the suspension and brake boundary conditions.

Easiest is tire height. So when it is time to buy new tires, go to a better towing option. LT tires have a stiffer sidewall. Low profile tires need less sidewall rigidity, because there is less sidewall to flex. Run flat construction adds additional stability to the tire sidewall. Give those ideas a look.

Suspension improvements are difficult, because OEM designers do a lot of work to make the vehicle handle best. Removing the compliance that is in place to provide vibration isolation can help. You do that with a hard bushing kit. Improved dampers (shocks) can help when the OEMs are not an integral element of stability control. If your TV does not have a panhard bar, look at that option.

Do not overlook leaving stuff at home. Firewood comes to mind as a first suggestion. You may find that your box is a 55mph rig in windy conditions. We all did a lot of traveling at 55 in the gas crisis of the 70s. There are advantages to that limitation, as it saves a lot of $s that you can spend for things that make you smile.

Travel safe. Good on you for looking to improve your RV experience. Pat
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Old 02-03-2019, 12:54 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISUboy View Post
thanks for the replies thus far.

Try to answer most of the comments:

First off, towing in general it pulls pretty good. I never feel unsafe, just need to slow down some in higher wind situations. Cruising at 60-65 takes care of 80% of the trips. This is mainly why I feel a superduty truck upgrade isnt really needed. Passing semis do not tend to bother it that much, but then again I pull to the right in my lane when I see one coming behind.

I have tried to fill my P rated tires to about 43 psi (rated at 45 max) on a 4 hr tow. I THINK that helped, but the wind wasn't that bad that trip either.

I too was surprised at the low tongue weight. The TT has a wardrobe slide in the front bedroom, so typically they are higher TW than normal. I also have 2 30lb tanks. TW in the brochure is 834, so I was surprised to see mine at 850 loaded. This was without water, but my tanks sit over the axles. It does have a rear bunk and rear outdoor kitchen, which is heavy. It has the larger fridge, microwave, pull out cooktop, sink, and cabinets so that is probably all reducing TW some. I weigh 200 lbs, so I experimented with the scale. I recorded a video of the scale with me walking in and sitting on the front bed, and then walking to the center, and then to the rear. The scale climbed about 150# to 1000. Standing in the center and in the rear had almost no effect on the scale. I will try to load it at about 900 to 950 lbs and see if that can help. Problem is I really do not have that much stuff to add or shift up there.

I actually also have a E4 rated at 1200 lbs that was my fathers before he passed. It does need to be restored some with new bolts since its about 8 years old so I was planning on seeing if the heavier hitch would help out any.

I do not grease the bars...I do grease the points where Fastway says too.

When hitched, my front lifts about 1/2"-5/8". When WD is engaged, it is restored to original height within 1/8" of the fender. I do not really feel like I need more WD at the moment. Higher TW will need to be readjusted.

I have been on the scale to only know the weight of my trailer and truck. At the time I could not get the several different readings I needed due to how busy they were. I plan on doing that when snow melts so I can get to my trailer.
Good info...your TW should be adequate, the scales will tell you what you need to know.
Wait 'til the snow melts...not worth the worry 'til you have all the numbers...👍
We have used our 'inferior' Hensley since '07 without any problems, regular maintenance only.

Bob
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Old 02-03-2019, 05:14 PM   #12
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I tried the wheel well height as a measure of effective WD. I had a fastway hitch and the scales showed I was pretty well setup. But I added a few things to the truck (topper, bed drawers, tools...I need to have them with me) and even though I had decent height measurements I could feel the steering being a little light. At the same time I decided to install a propride. Then winter started and I had to wait for a new set of scale tickets. Nice day came, loaded up, ran the jacks up about 5.5 inches, drove about 20 miles to the scales. Shocked! The truck was leveled very well but the front axle was way to light. Ran the jacks up to 8.5 which moved a lot more to the front axle but the rear axle was maxed out. So I could either dump the topper and drawers and tools or get a more capable TV. I got a more capable TV. Now the scales are proving I have done a better job setting up and I still have all my junk in the bed. I have about 4 inches on the jacks. If I take a much different load (add generator or bikes or kayaks or all three) I will set the jacks to support the load (no payload problems). Once I have a day off where the weather is nice I will load up fully, head to the scales, and get a number of different weights to know how to set my jack height.

So I guess all of that to say the PP is dynamic but you need to know where to set it based on your loads. And I donít trust the wheel well height metric. And when weíre out on the road and need to stop for fuel, I stop at least once at a place with scales. My wife gets a little impatient, but I try to make a point to fill up, ask her to run in and grab me a drink and hit the scales then. Sheís small so I know Iím not perfect then, but pretty darn close. And CAT has a great app so you just tun it all on your phone and have all the weight tickets electronically.

Sorry for the long post. Waiting for the game.
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Old 02-03-2019, 06:49 PM   #13
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You have a pretty long AS, so your experience may not be mine. I went to a PP and the difference was dramatic. I have pulled in 30mph cross winds. Not a problem. And when I go to visit my daughter I have to drive though Milwaukee and Chicago. No better test of stability than lots of truck traffic. I feel little bow affect. But then again I have a 28’. Also my tongue weight is about 950lbs since the kitchen is in the front. Also I run my bars up 9 inches on the WD towers. My F150 is level. Steering is good, and I’ve had to brake fast with no problems. I did see a YouTube where a guy went from a 1/4 ton to a 3/4 ton and he believed the towing experience improved significantly. Having said that I don’t like 3/4 tons for daily drivers. I have read that putting Bilstein shocks and heavier duty tires will also improve the towing experience. It won’t stop the sway, but it is suppose to improve stability. I don’t think you would go wrong with a PP hitch. But you might have to also increase the stability on the vehicle with shocks and tires. The fact is you may still have some sway with the present hitch and the 3/4 ton. And the suggestion above to make sure you increase tongue weight some may also be a solution. Good luck.

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Old 02-04-2019, 12:43 PM   #14
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I have a 2016 F150 and is basicly the same truck equipment except I have the 3.73 rear end. I am pulling a 2018 AS that has a tong weight of 1,100 lbs and trailer fullly loaded is about 8,800. I purchased the Reese 66130 load leveling hitch that has built in anti sway. It works great. I drove about 16,,000 miles last year across TX, NM, UT, KS, ND, SD and others destinations without a problem with wind. Now I grant you when high wind warnings above 30 mph were out I stayed put. I drove across TX running 70 mph with no problem. The Reese hitch was in blue about $600 installed. It’s real easy to hook up and I can be hooked up and on the road in about 15 mins. I grant you when I first got it it took about 4 or five trips of fine tuning to get it right. Had to keep adjusting chains and hitch ball heights. I run 50 psi in back tires and 80 psi in TT tires. I could go up the Guadalupe pass in West TX at 70 mph. Just keep plenty of white grease on hand for the hitch and grease the end of the bars and the rollers on the hitch.
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Old 02-04-2019, 01:25 PM   #15
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Bear in mind that a ProPride (and probably a Hensley) will add about 200 pounds to your tongue weight. With a truck (F-150) that is already close to its limits, that may be too much.

I towed a 2017 International 27FB behind a 2017 F-150 outfitted similarly to yours for about a year before concluding that while the truck had plenty of power, the rear end was seriously overloaded, resulting in porpoising. I fiddled with the weight distribution, but the end result was that the truck was overloaded (rear axle and GVWR) no matter what I did. I upgraded to an F-250 and the problems went away. If I were you, I'd seriously consider option 4, despite the cost.

The Hensley and ProPride hitches are well engineered and do their jobs, but they are not without drawbacks. In my case, not only was there a big increase in tongue weight, but the ProPride hitch substantially decreased my rig's ground clearance, and was difficult to hitch/unhitch in situations where the truck and trailer were unlevel/twisted/angled with respect to each other. Since I boondock much of the time, these were problems for me. I switched to an Equal-i-zer hitch, and for my uses, it works better.
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Old 02-04-2019, 01:36 PM   #16
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I can only speak to the "Does anyone tow a setup like this?"

We tow a 34' Airstream with a 2009 F150 5.4L 2WD.

Originally the setup was a Reese W/D with friction bars. Sway was definitely an issue. We switched to a ProPride with 1400# bars and ALL of the sway issues were cleared up. The suspension components on the truck are unchanged with the exception of new rear shocks when the old ones wore out. Replacement was Monroe.

Your description is similar to what we had and the ProPride was our first step and ended up being the final solution.

$2900 isn't cheap, but it allows you to keep your current truck which replacement cost would be much more, and the option of suspension upgrades may or may not solve the problem. If it doesn't, then you've spent that money and still need to spend more to solve your issue.
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Old 02-04-2019, 03:09 PM   #17
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I pull a 25ft, running around 6500lb on the last weighing, with Blue Ox 1000lb. bars. I had a 2015 F-150. Semi trucks really blew me away. In the mountains, I never felt sure footed, especially downhill on a curve. I upgraded tires and pressure and put on Bilstein shocks. No change. I found a low mileage used 2017 F-250 gasser and problem solved. It has one extra helper spring (which I don't think it ever touches) and a rear stabilizer bar. Since this truck rides hard as my daily driver, I wish I could have kept my F-150, but I fell safer now.
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Old 02-04-2019, 03:18 PM   #18
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I have a PP hitch and love it and the company. Very nice people to deal with. I would recommend one to everyone! Having said that IMO a hitch is insurance.

I don't understand the pleasure we get in weighing our load at each axel, checking our max air pressure, checking to see if the truck is level and the list is endless. People much smarter than me can advise you how to do all that. I enjoy reading it and thinking about it.

I have lived it. I had a 30' trailer and pulled it with a 1500 4 door with a 5.5 bed. It pulled great. Nothing bothered me. Then I went to a 34' with a slide. Not so much fun. I put tires that maxed at 80 pounds, I added Kilderman air shocks, I added a PP hitch. Many of you know what I spent. I got caught between two 18 wheelers in heavy traffic and lots of wind Ö... almost lost it.

I have pulled 18,000 pound fifth wheels, I've driven an 18 Wheeler, I can drive. Guess what, I went to a larger truck, longer wheel base and I pulled it in the California mountains on roads that said RV's not recommended! Buy all the good stuff your can afford but again in my opinion. Don't let the tail wag the dog. Wind can gust well over 30 miles an hour. A hitch is insurance.
ande
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Old 02-04-2019, 11:36 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paprika View Post
Bear in mind that a ProPride (and probably a Hensley) will add about 200 pounds to your tongue weight. With a truck (F-150) that is already close to its limits, that may be too much.
.
There is a lot if conflicting information about hitches and tw. Most people think the dead weight of the hitch goes right on the truck. But when people have weighed the PP or HaHa with a Sherline for example from the stinger, they are finding the reading to be much lower due to the added length of the hitch. (Lower compared to loaded tw + 200 lbs) Also when wd is engaged it will shift a percentage back to the trailer axles reducing the weight the truck feels.

Did you happen to weigh your setup to know what it added in your situation?
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Old 02-05-2019, 03:21 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kidjedi View Post
I have been constructing my "Hensley Hitch Blog Post" for nearly a year now. What it boils down to is basically this: when it works, a Hensley hitch is the best thing going. The rest of the time it's a nightmare. I have read more than once on this forum about people with a Hensley hitch who carry a "back up hitch" for when the Hensley fails. I am now in this camp (a Hensley that is my "real" hitch with a cheap chain version in the cargo hold). I have had the Hensley fail me on three significant cross country hauls. That said, when driving across Kansas with 70 mile an hour cross winds, I can barely tell my 25 ft. Airstream is behind me. After more research, I think my next step will be giving an Equalizer a shot, but my hopes aren't very high for a "magic bullet" in the world of hitches.
Would you please send me a link to your blog? I am new at this. Bought a slightly used 1993 25ft with a Hensley and an old other hitch in the cargo hold. Thx, phil
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