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Old 01-20-2004, 01:08 PM   #1
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Question Hensley is worth it, right?

I've been reading on past threads that it seems everyone loves their Hensley hitch and think it is worth every penny. I am just about to order the Hensley and I just need some encouragement (man, is it expensive) to make the leap. Anyone not like the Hensley? Thanks everyone.
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Old 01-20-2004, 01:20 PM   #2
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I'm one of the few that never have liked my Hensley the entire six years I've owned it. Don't get me wrong, once hooked up it tows like a dream. I just find it a constant source of agravation for hooking and unhooking. I would make sure and try Equalizer or Reese Dual Cam first to see if I was happy with either of them. If so, it might save a lot of money and agravation.
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Old 01-20-2004, 01:27 PM   #3
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That is my biggest worry. I will be hitching it up myself always. So I am thinking it might be too much trouble. I saw the posts on hitching it up and it does seem complicated.
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Old 01-20-2004, 01:56 PM   #4
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I haven't had a chance to tow very far with mine yet, mainly just around the block a few times. I can attest however that it has made it much easier to get backed up into the driveway. I am able to make a much tighter turn.

As far as hooking up:

I feel that it is easier.

You need to line up left and right (the optional tongue twister makes this much easier).
Use the tension jacks to align it up and down
Back into the receiver
Use the wrench to engage the latches and drop the lock pins in
Set the load tension
Hook up the chains etc. and 'awayyyyyy you go.'

A few minor steps may have been fogotten, check your manual to be sure.

I'm happy with mine. Can't wait to get it out onto the Interstate.
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Old 01-20-2004, 03:00 PM   #5
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I've heard from a few folks who have had trouble with it. One was actually going to replace it, until I gave him "the technique" and told him about the electric drill for the screw jack (and making sure the tongue jack is all the way up when tightening them whether doing it manually or with the drill). Most don't have any problems with it.

More on hooking up the Hensley.
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Old 01-20-2004, 03:06 PM   #6
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I think that a Hensley is overkill for a 25' Safari. I tow a 25' Classic and initially used a simple Reese friction bar which was perfectly adequate. Currrently, I am using the new Reese Heavy Duty Dual-Cam and the truck and trailer are like one. The HD dual-cam is an impressive piece of work for about $160.

I won't quarrel with the Hensley for larger units, but IMHO, for a 25' Safari, there is no need to pay that kind on money for a hitch. Your Safari is light in relation to the tire patch and should be quite resistant to side forces.

I have watched more than one Hensley owner hook up and I don't buy any statement that it is easier; the best you could say is that on reasonably level ground it isn't substantially harder. The Equalizer is probably the easiest to hook up, followed by the dual cam.
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Old 01-20-2004, 03:34 PM   #7
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Big Dee,

You're wanting this for your new 30' SO, right? That is one heavy trailer. In your position, I might very well go for it. It would probably depend (for me) on what my tow vehicle was.

I've been very happy with my Dual Cam, but I pull an older, lighter 25' Sovereign.

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Old 01-20-2004, 04:05 PM   #8
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I didn't think the Hensley was worth the cost but then I am only towing 25' of trailer.

I don't know if I could lift a Hensley; my wife has spinal trouble and arthritis. I can't expect her to do it.

Storage is another problem in my owning a Hensley. Our trailer is in a supposedly "secure" lot but I like everything locked away.
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Old 01-20-2004, 04:13 PM   #9
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We like our Hensley with out 30' Classic. Tows like a dream.

Hitching and unhitching is an alignment issue - spend the time to get things aligned, and it is easy. Just have to be thorough.

We use a 18V cordless Dewalt drill for the jacks, etc.

Can't imagine towing without it.

73/gus
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Old 01-20-2004, 04:35 PM   #10
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If I paid $3K for a hitch I'd learn to love it.
I have Reese Dual Cam ($500-600) it came with the A/S. I drove 1200 mi (1st time I ever pulled a trailer). Tow vehicle was a Bronco.
I never was buffeted at all on secondary roads or Interstates.
If you had SOB you *might* need a Hensley, but the A/S tows like a dream. Look at the profile of A/S compared to SOB's there's your answer. The tube is smooth.
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Old 01-20-2004, 08:13 PM   #11
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Talking Got your engineering degree?

One of the members of our WBCCI unit bought a Hensley this past summer. At the rally he wasn't parked in a level spot, and when he went to hitch up again had a devil of a time getting things lined up. Eventually, an entire crew of Airstreamers were around him trying to help, including Hensley owners. It was almost laughable -- too many cooks so to speak. I think it must be a very good hitch -- better be for the cost, but I think it also might be overkill depending on the size of your trailer and the weight and wheelbase of your tow vehicle. If your tow vehicle is somewhat overmatched by the trailer then go with the best hitch. But if your tow vehicle is more than a match for the trailer a more standard hitch will do.
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Old 01-21-2004, 05:50 AM   #12
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I tend to agree with Forrest: I think it also might be overkill depending on the size of your trailer and the weight and wheelbase of your tow vehicle. If your tow vehicle is somewhat overmatched by the trailer then go with the best hitch. But if your tow vehicle is more than a match for the trailer a more standard hitch will do.

I chose the Hensley because of my limited hand/finger strenght, I'm not able to pick-up & carry the standard ball-hitch, and the Hensley's hitch bar is lighter. Another plus was handling only one piece, the hitch bar, no equalizer or weigh distribution bars.

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Old 01-21-2004, 06:23 AM   #13
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Have not tried towing my 34' Classic without the Hensley, but I DO know that, with the Hensley and the MasterBrake controller, towing is completely without drama. Passing trucks, going in either direction, do not cause any issue at all, and braking is always perfect.

Yes, the Hensley does take practice hitching, but with practice you will be able to hit it on the first try.
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Old 01-21-2004, 06:33 AM   #14
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When I stated that I thought I couldn't lift it, I was under the impression that you took the whole thing off the trailer. I'm not certain I want to leave $2-$3 K out there dangling.

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Old 01-21-2004, 07:26 AM   #15
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Thumbs up Is Hensley worth it?

I had a 25' Safari and it pulled like a dream with a Reese hitch. When we bought a 25' Classic, we had a lot of sway. We bought a Hensley as I convinced myself that it was worth it, if it would help eliminate a accident, not to mention what I have invested in trailer and pull vehicle. Have been in a few situations where something is on the highway and it is necessary to swerve quickly to avoid it. Not supposed to follow too close but you know how the space in front of you fills in. Hensley pulls great. As far as hooking up there are trade offs. You have to develope a knack of hooking up. Sometimes you cannot believe it is so easy and other times you have a little more trouble. You do not have the bars to content with and this is a plus. The spring bars are always in place and it only takes seconds to adjust with a portable drill. I use the drill, with the same size socket for the stabalizer jacks. The hitch bar is also lighter in the situations that you want to take it out and store it when set up in camp.
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Old 01-21-2004, 07:27 AM   #16
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It's worth every penny. If your GMC is the shorter "tahoe" style wheelbase you will need it with the weight your are towing. Once you get it installed and learn to hook up, you'd break anyone's arm if they tried to take it away.

I guess the best way put it, my wife would never drive while towing our sob. When we got the AS and the hemsley, she'll readily break me to drive. There is absolutely no hint of trailer input into the steering wheel.

We have the Jordan brake controller, you should have one that uses brake peddel pressure instead of the tail light to activate the brakes.
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Old 01-21-2004, 09:05 AM   #17
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Thumbs up Wow, So Many Replies! Thanks!

I should have said in the first post that the Hensley would be for a 30' Classic (decided against slide). With my 25' Safari, I have a friction sway and with over 25,000 miles I've NEVER EVER felt sway. To this date, I don't know what it feels like.
So with the upgrade to the 30' Classic, I thought I don't want to start feeling it now.
I am going to order it today. I am still worried about the issue of not being able to realign the Hensley after unhooking on uneven ground.
Also, do I leave the Hensley on the trailer when storing??? That is worrisome, such an inviting target. What does everyone do with it when storing?
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Old 01-21-2004, 09:55 AM   #18
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My 29' Ambassador came with a single friction bar. On the 'burb it didn't make much difference and I had no 'white knuckle' experiences with or without the friction bar. And that is in a place where they frequently close roads because of winds and there is a lot of commercial traffic on secondary highways and mountainous driving.

The B-190 is a bit more squirrely on its own and the trailer on it gave some evidence of needing some handling assistance. The old hitch was losing parts due to wear and corrosion. So I replaced it with an Equal-i-zer for $400. That did make a difference and improved handling on the B-Van and 29' trailer. I haven't tried the EQ on the 'burb, yet.

To me, sway or other handling problems should be addressed at their source if at all possible. This means proper loading, good tires at max inflation, well maintained vehicles designed for the task, and appropriate considerations in rigging.

From my experience, a properly configured Airstream, even the longer ones, do not need much in terms of sway control to improve handling - if all the basics are covered.

What you get with a Hensley is better handling and potentially better peace of mind. You have to compare these benefits to the cost for yourself. But please don't fall for the FUD mongering that is so commonly used to rationalize the expense. A Hensley will not completely eliminate sway (nothing will). A Hensley does not offer a fool proof zero risk hitch solution. The Hensley does have its quirks and maintenance needs that cannot be ignored, either.

You might also take an inventory of hitch types next time you stop at a campground. You will find very few Hensleys and even DC's and EQ's are not that prevalent. This says that simple friction bars or no sway control is completely satisfactory for most folks.

Its your money. A lot of more folks swear by the Hensley rather than at it. But it ultimately comes down to how much you want to spend for what you want to do and how you want to feel about it.
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Old 01-21-2004, 10:08 AM   #19
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Quote:
We have the Jordan brake controller, you should have one that uses brake peddel pressure instead of the tail light to activate the brakes.
This, I think, is misleading. There are very few modern brake controllers that use the tail light to activate brakes.

The may use the switch (not the lights) on the brake pedal much the same way the jourdan does - to tell when braking is needed, but they don't use it to activate brakes.

With the jourdan, the position of the brake pedal is used to activate the brakes proportional to how far down the pedal is pushed.

The alternative, exemplified by the prodigy, uses the response of the vehicle to braking rather than the brake pedal position to determine proportional activation of trailer brakes.

My 'burb uses a hydraulic tap to set proportional trailer brake activation but that doesn't have any 'smarts' in the 'burb brake system to confuse things. There are some modern controllers that still tap into the hydraulic line, though.

Both the Jourdan and the Prodigy have many pleased customers. So let's not get into bashing what we don't have to rationalize our own choice. Instead, let's define our personal preferences that lead to our choice - and try to make sure these aren't falsly based.
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Old 01-21-2004, 12:23 PM   #20
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I'm not into bashing brake controllers. It's just that with a Hensley, in a hard braking situation that is also in a turn, the tow can receive a "bump" from the trailer that is a little un-nerving. I found that the inertia type controller did not have enough braking force soon enough to control the bump. I was constantly adjusting the gain for freeway driving and then back again for city driving. With the Jordan this is completely elimated as is the bump.

Also, I may be wrong, and anyone out there can correct me, but I think the power to the brake light is the indicator to turn on the inertia controller and begin a braking situation.

Mark
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