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Old 06-04-2002, 01:09 PM   #1
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Cool Hensley, Pullrite, etc.

Iíve joined this forum recently and have read various threads on different subjects. I find the regular members of the forum to be open and genuinely helpful to members of the Airstream community. Therefore I would like to share with you an experience Iíve had with the Hensley Arrow Hitch.

Iíll preface my comments of the Hensley hitch by commenting on my experiences with a brand ďXĒ weight distributing hitch and the Pullrite hitch. Prior to purchasing our Airstream, we owned a 1984 Award trailer that we pulled with a 1983 Chevy Astro Van. Our first experiences were with the Brand ďXĒ hitch and sway control brake were disastrous, neither worked. It was pure white knuckle driving and we couldnít go above 55. After one season with this rig, we scrapped the hitch and purchased the pullrite. The Pullrite does everything they advertise and we regained the stability we needed while towing. We learned much with this hitch and accepted the compromises in turning radius, and the procedures needed to hitch the trailer to the tow vehicle. All in all, this is a very good hitch and I would suggest it to anyone.

Last year we traded the entire rig to move up to an Airstream. We purchased a 2001 Excella 30, and a GMC Yukon XL. I called the Pullrite people to order a new hitch and was told I would loose my spare tire, located under the bed and in front of the rear bumper. Unfortunately this was not an acceptable option for us and I called Hensley and ordered our new hitch.

This last April, while driving overnight to Florida, I had some instability in the rig. It felt somewhat like the old days with the Award. The trailer was chasing us around the road, and we were disappointed with our lack of stability. I purchased new tires before we left and forgot to inflate them to their maximum pressure. We stopped and pumped up the tires, this helped but not completely. When we stopped for our first load of gas I kicked the hitch and found one of the struts a little loose. I tightened the nut on the curbside strut about a half a turn and locked it in place. When properly installed and adjusted, this hitch is absolutely fantastic. There is no sway at all. A twenty-four hour trip to Florida is a comfortable experience with shared driving. The bow waves of passing semiís are not noticeable and in the flat lands of Georgia and Florida, we have to concentrate to keep the speed down because it is so easy to go over 70. I like to tow around 62 mph. We now have over 9,000 miles on this rig and are very happy with the setup. When you have the investment many of us have in a rig, the difference of another couple of thousand is insignificant. Especially when you have your family along for the ride.

I have first hand experience with all three types of hitches. Without question the Hensley is absolutely the best with the Pullrite a close second, and both far outdistance the third.

Happy towing.
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Old 06-06-2002, 10:25 AM   #2
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We have owned a Hensley since '96 when we were pulling a 26' Sunline with a V8 Grand Cherokee. Since then we have towed a 30' Award with the Jeep, a 31 foot Airstream with a Tahoe, and a 34' Airstream with 3/4 ton Chevy truck. The Hensley has been on all of em....We don't leave home without it.

Happy campin'
Lee
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Old 06-08-2002, 08:27 PM   #3
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Lee, how did your Tahoe do pulling the 31' using the Hensley? I'm thinking of possibly getting a 25' Classic or Safari. I would also buy a Hensley. My concern is what wheelbase is necessary for safe pulling of a 25 footer? Do I need to go to the Suburban wheelbase or is the shorter Tahoe ok? Comments would sure be appreciated.

Thanks,
Kent
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Old 06-08-2002, 08:41 PM   #4
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Tahoe puller

Hi Kent

We pull our 66 TradeWind (24 ft) with a 99 Tahoe. It has the correct rear differential for max pulling (3.73 I think). We find the stability is just fine with reese weight distribution setup. We pulled our former 60 Overlander (26ft) from Southern Ohio to Western Canada last June and never felt that the tail was wagging the dog.

If I have a concern it would be that the Tahoe has to work pretty hard on some of the mountain passes but it is very stable.

Though shorter our 24 footer is heavier than our 26 footer was. We are about 5000 lbs loaded.
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Old 06-09-2002, 05:05 AM   #5
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Kent,

I've seen 25 and 27 foot safari's go blasting down the road behind tahoe's. You should have no problem at all with the right rear end. Make sure you have a 3.73. The Hensley should do really fine with the shorter wheelbase of a Tahoe. I think you would feel some instability (effort to move the tow vehicle in cross winds and passing other vehicles) without one. It certainly is worth the investment.

My son (age 14) and I installed ours at the airstream dealer. No problem and only took about an hour.

Good luck
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Old 06-10-2002, 08:54 AM   #6
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Kent, like the others have said, the Tahoe did pretty well. Out on the Intersate, I could run with anybody. I was a little slow in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We never went to the real mountains out west. The short wheelbase was a non issue using the Hensley. We never had any problems with the Tahoe. We just drove it and kept the fluids changed. The lease ran out on the Tahoe and we decided that we wanted a crew cab truck.

Good luck and best regards,

Lee
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Old 06-13-2002, 09:48 PM   #7
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No problem here with brand x

I would not want anyone who wants one to forgo the purchase of a Hensley or Pullrite. The priciple behind both products make excellent sense.

However, I would not want everyone to think it is the only alternative, either. I tow an '87 Sovereign 25' with a 94 Chevy 1/2 ton (diesel) extended cab shortbed using a single sway bar Reese load leveling hitch. To say it works great is an understatement. I have towed it thousands of miles now and am never bothered by passing semis, strong winds, or rough roads.

Now, this is a rather heavy truck, even for a 1/2 ton, and has a rather long wheelbase, so I start with an advantage. And some time and effort went into getting a proper setup. And a 25' is not the longest trailer out there. But the Reese was a fraction of the cost of either Pullrite or Hensley. And the lack of the additional weight over the bumper is a small plus as well as compared to a Hensley.

I do not say that a Hensley or Pullrite are not necessary; in fact, I suspect that they would make some otherwise incompatible trailer/tow vehicle combinations possible. I am merely observing that many times they are not actually the only choises.

Mark
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Old 06-14-2002, 10:10 AM   #8
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that makes me feel better. I haven't towed my new trailer yet (still getting repaired), but when I do, it will be with a Dodge Ram 1500 Quad-Cab short-bed, and with no fancy hitch. It weighs nearly 5200lbs empty, and has a 139" wheel-base. I don't think I'll have a problem towing a 3500lb (according to AS) trailer.

I've hauled much heavier stuff (construction equipment) in the past, and never noticed sway like I've been reading about in reference to the Hensley, etc. Seems to me that if you're experiencing enough of a problem to warrant a $3000 hitch, there's something else wrong. (truck too light/trailer too heavy/driving too fast). Maybe not...I'm no expert. maybe the profile of a TT makes a better "sail" than a backhoe, and weight isn't really the issue. More of a "leverage" thing (?)
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Old 06-14-2002, 12:19 PM   #9
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Chuck,
I towed a '77 Excella 500 31' empty from AZ. to TN. with a '92 Chevy Z71 4X4 shortbed truck. I have a Reese 1,000 lb. max tongue wt. hitch and Reese straight equalizer bars. Every semi that passed me made me waunder over the road. I spent much of my time looking in the rear view mirror to prepare for the next truck. My knuckles became white sometimes. That truck was totalled by my son while trying to miss a deer which jumped in the road in front of him. I replaced it with a '01 Chevy 2500HD extended cab shortbed truck. While listed as a 3/4 ton, it actually is a 1 ton without the dual rear wheels. The wheelbase was increased, the tires are shorter (245-75-16 vs. 265-75-16) and are E rated therefore stiffer sidewalls. I still use the same hitch setup but the waundering has stopped when trucks pass. I think it is the heaver truck, longer wheelbase and the stiffer tires that have taken care of that. I bet with the Hensley attached I would not even know that the trailer was back there.
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Old 06-16-2002, 09:13 PM   #10
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I have a 3500 single rear wheel 4X4 pickup, with 454 and 4.10 rear end. (9200 GVW, same as 2500HD)I tow with just a plain ball hitch, no sway control. It pulls fine, no sway whatsoever. When on a level surface the truck and trailer are completely level, so I do not use an equalizer hitch.
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Old 06-16-2002, 09:26 PM   #11
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My Experiences with "Trailer Sway"

I also use this truck to pull a 23' equipment trailer, with tandem axles. The axles are centered exactly on the 18' platform. I have noticed sway with this trailer, IF the equipment being hauled is to far back on the bed of the trailer, which results in less hitch weight. When I have encountered sway, I stop and move the equipment up about a foot, and the sway stops. I have also observed that low tire pressure can cause sway. I took a look at my Airstream and noticed that the tandems are back behind the centerline of the coach, this is one of the reasons they pull so well.
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Old 06-16-2002, 10:48 PM   #12
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This story is no bull (well, actually, it is, kinda)

My worst towing moment came when I didn't securely fasten the middle gate of my stock trailer and the 1200# bull I had put in the forward compartment decided to stroll to the rear. I was towing with a short-wheelbase Blazer and with all that weight at the back of the trailer, things became frantic in a hurry. Thankfully, there was no other traffic and the road was wide with good shoulders because I used all of it. I often wonder what that bull was thinking as he richcheted first off one side and then off the other.

My 22' International tows nicely with no sway damper and the tech at the dealer said I wouldn't need one. I'm a belt and suspenders guy, so I put on a Reese sway control anyway. Last weekend, doing 60+, in a hard 90-degree crosswind, I was passed by an 18-wheeler doing about 80. When I saw him coming, I lifted my hands slightly off the wheel to see what the reaction would be and there was practicaly none.
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Old 07-05-2002, 11:47 AM   #13
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Just to add my 2 cents. We pull a 25' Excella with a 19' Excursion. It has a V10 6.8L. It has a 'standard' load equalizing setup, nothing fancy, no sway bar, etc. I have never noticed any misbehaving. However, I am not sure which part of the vehicle weighs more (tow or trailer). The setup is very well behaved.
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Old 07-05-2002, 01:05 PM   #14
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I am towing my 25ft tradewind with a 1992 Dodge 1 ton extended van. Although not a " hip" tow vehicle, it does very well. It has the 360 V8 and a 3:90something rear end. The transmission is a 4-speed automatic, whereas 4th is an overdrive with a bypass switch. It's very cooll if you have room to bring everything and everybody you want, and still have room to be comfortable in the van. The long rear end overhang makes backing up the trailer really easy, it responds very well and fast. I am not noticing a disadvantage trqavelling with the long rear overhang, just perhaps a very slight sway when semis pass at mach 3.
I use a regular hitch ball for short runs, don't even bother with the equalizer hitch. For extended trips, especially to Mexico where both vehicles are loaded, I use the equalizer lift with 2 bars. ( eaz-lift) There is a sway ball on the trailer, but I do not have the sway control system to go with it.
My equalizing hitch works well, but is very noisy n turns. Maybe anyone has a suggestion as to how to stop the noise? it clunks and creaks, as if the chains move across the tongue and catch on something. I believe the setuo is correct, i did it as per instructions.There are 4 chainlinks used, and 4 hanging loose while driving. The receiver and bar ends are lubed with moly grease, but ti is still noisy.
I noticed that if I only tension the hitch very slightly, then the noise all but disappears. Anyways, it looks like an older model, but if anyone has a similar experience and a solution, then I would love to hear about it.
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Old 07-05-2002, 01:17 PM   #15
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Hitch noise

My equalizing hitch groans loudly when it rains, but only then. It is well lubricated, so I just live with it.
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Old 07-05-2002, 01:34 PM   #16
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I've got a Reese Dual Cam unit and it creaks groans and pops when I first hitch up and at low speeds through the campground or backing. It's really the nature of the beast. The only parts to lube are the hitch ball and the spring bar ends that sit next to the ball mount. The cams and chain do not (and must not) get lubed thus giving you the pop and groan that occurs when moving at low speeds.

It is unnerving to someone who is new to towing or those in the neighborhood as you pull out or back into the driveway.

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Old 07-06-2002, 01:15 PM   #17
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Snap, Crackle, pop

That explains it. I am relatively new to towing with equalizer hitches. It is definitely unnerving. I figured I had something connected wrong, or the whole thing was assembled poorly.
But closer inspection confirms what you guys say.
I'll get used to it.
Thaks for the replies..
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Old 08-05-2002, 03:33 PM   #18
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I'm new to this forum, but not to trailering. I have towed the same 76 Argosy 26 with three different tow vehicles. First with an 88 Dodge halfton long bed pick-up, with a standard weight distributing hitch. I added progressive helper springs to the rear springs on the truck, as well as a rear anti-sway bar and 3.90 gears. It towed like a dream, with no sway at all up to 75 MPH. The little 318 eventually wore out from the high revs caused by the 3 speed tranny with the 3.90.
Next I towed it with a six cylinder 89 Jeep Cherokee. I added 4.10 gears, custom ARB front and rear springs, antisway bars, used a weight distributing hitch and a Reese friction sway device. This lash-up was stable, no sway, would tow at 65 MPH on the level, but was totally underbraked. The trailer brakes were absolutely essential to stop this rig. Not confidence inspiring.
Now I tow it with a 4X4 99 Dodge 2500, quad cab, longbed, V-10 with a 3.55 rear. I added AIR-Lift air springs to the rear of the truck to allow me to maintain absolute level even with firewood, etc in the back of the truck, (I have a 600 LB cap on the truck, too) I use a weight CARRYING hitch rated at 1000 lbs hitch/10,000 lbs draw with a Reese a friction sway control just to be safe. This tows like a dream at any sane speed with no sway in wind at all. Using 4 wheel drive in the rain, etc is a great aid to handling and braking, also. My conclusion: tow vehicle relative size and weight make the biggest difference in towing comfort and safety.
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Old 08-05-2002, 04:02 PM   #19
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Creaks and groans

My Reese sway bar really groans when first hooked up. It seems to rust just a bit between uses and the noise stops as soon as the rust is polished off.

The weight distribution bars will also "pop" if not kept well lubed. They hang up on turns and then let loose with a jerk.
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Old 08-05-2002, 05:24 PM   #20
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Hi John,
I did some adjustments to the hitch since my last post. I changed the angle of the ball mount downwards, so that there is more chain used with the same tension, and I also went slightly lighter on the pre-load. Now the noise is acceptable, and it only groans in tight turns when going slow, and occasionally when going over speedbumps.
The bars are now a lot closer to parallel with the tongue, whereas before they were angled up towards the rear a little too much, which made the chain very short.
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