Originally Posted by DilmoreFarms
We have a 31 foot Excella with the original tow bar with sway bars that are very heavy. As we are getting older it is getting harder and harder to hook up.
Trying to decide first: if we should change to a newer version,
and second: which one we should purchase. We are at about 8K Lbs unloaded.
Consider a Hensley design system. Either Hensley Manufacturing or ProPride brands are available. Less stuff to fiddle with, and less lifting. Either system can handle up to 10,000 pounds of trailer.
I have a ProPride. I do NOT have to install and remove the WD bars or any other part of the hitch system, and there are no extra bits for anti-sway. The WD bars are easily tensioned with a wrench used on the WD jacks as they come from the factory. I'm now installing a custom prototype power WD jack system to eliminate even that little bit of work. See the ProPride power WD jack thread I started elsewhere on the forums....
The only heavy lifting I have to do is installing the stinger that connects the TV to the ProPride head. At present, it's on the garage floor, and it needs to be picked up and stuck into the truck receiver, then pinned in place. The rest of the head and WD bar assembly STAYS on the trailer A-frame, and only gets fiddled with to lubricate it with a grease gun. The stinger assembly will shortly have a box on wheels for storage that is just the right height to slip it into the truck receiver without any lifting. I just need to build it...(along with a bunch of other build projects...sigh)
I'm over 70, and fortunate to be fairly strong still (just lacking endurance some days). Since I got rid of the hitch that tensioned it's WD bars with chains and a piece of pipe for leverage, I feel much safer hitching up.
Now I connect and lock the ProPride stinger into the truck, back in and latch to the head, run the WD jacks up to the right tension, and I'm done messing with the hitch.
Once I change out the umbilical connectors to an EZConnector system, I will just poke the umbilical toward the truck receptacle and it almost will jump into place and hold solidly using magnets. Breakaway cable and chains still require fiddling, but I'm working on that problem. My ideal is back the truck up, seat the stinger, and the rest of it simply jumps into place (yeah, right...)
Others have noted that raising the trailer and TV as far as possible to make latching the chain tensioner in place is also a good idea on conventional hitches. You do this AFTER you have hooked up but before you tension the bars. Takes a reliable, strong electric tongue jack, but it reduces the effort a lot. I gave up on that old hitch I had when the piece of pipe started bending from the strain, and the one time I slipped, and the darn thing tried to break my arm...
There are a few good ways to avoid the excessive heavy lifting that we all need to avoid as we age...another approach is a bit of planned exercise to maintain strength as best we can. I know that's not always practical, but it does help mitigate some of the effects of aging.
And, as a good friend of mine often pointed out, achieving great age is not for wimps...it requires a strong attitude and a bit of care to get old gracefully, and deal with the inevitable aches and pains. I claim I can still do most of the stuff I did when I was in my 40's--it just takes ten times as long to recover!
Rich, KE4GNK/AE, Overkill Engineering Dept.
'The Silver HamShack' ('07 International 22FB CCD 75th Anniversary)
Multiple Yaesu Ham Radios inside and many antennae sprouting from roof, ProPride hitch, Prodigy P2 controller.
2012 shortbed CrewMax 4x4 Toyota Tacoma TV with more antennae on it.