Hensley Arrow - Is it worth the investment?

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gr8pyrs

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Jul 21, 2006
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PA
I did a search and found little about Hensley here on the forum.

Does anyone use this hitch?
Is the improvement worth the cost over my Eaz-Lift system?
 

Carl L

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west Los Angeles
I do not own a Hensley but a good friend does.  He likes the engineering of it and being that he actually is a rocket scientist, that is saying something.  I have watched it being set up and I must say that it does eliminate most of the grunt and groan connected with the process using my beloved Reese Dual Cam system.  As to whether that is worth $3K is another matter.
 

gr8pyrs

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Jul 21, 2006
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Location
PA
Thanks Carl.

I'm wrestling withthe cost too.
I do not know anyone that uses one but it was recommended to me by a business associate.

Their website is interesting but with that $3K sticker I'm wondering just how much better it would be than my current system.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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At our Silver Springs FL home
A former forum member (now deceased) got a Hensley Arrow hitch after having control problems towing a 36 foot travel trailer with a short wheelbase van.  He said it worked wonders!  For him, it was money well spent, since he had a lot invested in his custom van and did not want to change either van or trailer.

The question is, what sort of "improvement" are you looking for?  If your present hitch is working fine, why change? There would have to be a darn good reason to spend $3000 or so.

Have you also considered the Pull Rite hitch? It is also an improved design versus the traditional style. I believe it is somewhat less expensive than the Hensley.

 

gr8pyrs

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PA
The question is, what sort of "improvement" are you looking for?

I'm not really dissatisfied with my current set-up. An associate just mentioned this hitch and said that he had heard them to be a good system. I had never heard of them before (new to this somewhat) so I thought I'd pick the brains of you folks.

I'm just in the investigating mode and back to my original point, is there that much of an improvement to warrant the cost. I'm not really sure that it is. I'm towing a 26' TH with and E350 extended van. For the most part it does pretty good. I'm not looking to make a running change just doing my research.

Thanks to all for the feedback.
 

Carl L

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I'm not really dissatisfied with my current set-up. An associate just mentioned this hitch and said that he had heard them to be a good system. I had never heard of them before (new to this somewhat) so I thought I'd pick the brains of you folks.

Out of curiousity, what is turning you off about your current hitch.
 

Rob_G

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Joined
Jul 28, 2006
Posts
8
Location
Beach Park, IL.
I think a great alternative to your Eaz-list system would be the Equal-i-zer system. MUCH more simplistic than the Eaz-lift... no chains... no seperate sway control... it's an all-in-one solution that's wonderful...set it and forget it. Prior to owning this system, I had a Resse W/D with Sway and personally, I would never go back. Not just because of ease of use but for also towing control. I thought I was pulling good with the Resse but with this, it's a HGUE difference. Much more control and NO sway at all. I even feel in control on the flatlands with a high cross wind.

I've NEVER heard of ANYONE who purchased an Equal-i-zer that wasn't more happy with that over their previous setup. Not only is it phenominal but it's about 1/9th the price of a Hensley. I've seen them run for about $600 - $650 at the dealers, but I bought mine new dirt cheap on Ebay. The cheapest retail I've seen is for $400 at Rvwholsalers.com.

Sorry for the pitch. I just think it would be good alterative if you're looking to upgrade.
 

rbell

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Jackson, Michigan
I gotta go along with Rob. I had a Reese on my previous TT. When I traded I got an Equal-i-zer mostly because of the good things I'd heard about it. He took the Reese on trade and said if I wasn't happy with it he would trade it back. So I figured he wasn't just pushing stuff at me. It was a good move and I'll not go back. I still read stuff about the Hensley trying to figure out the $3000 deal.
 

sheff99

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Jun 10, 2006
Posts
21
Location
McKinney, TX
Good question.  I had my first sphincter pucking experience this weekend (is that ok to say
in this forum?) that motivated me to spend some bucks.  I was trapped between a cement barrier
wall one side and another large truck on the other with very narrow lanes.  We came to small
jog in the road that required quick moves.  This cause an oscillation that I had to really work
to recover from.  For the whole Trip I was working to keep the rig centered as it would drift
side to side depending on wind, passing semi's, ...  Small movements in the steering wheel
would produce damped oscillations in the trailer (not damped enough for my taste). 

After a couple days of research, I decided to take the plunge on an Arrow hitch.  Hopefully this
will help.  They offer 100% money back for 60days if I don't like it, and they even pay return shipping.

I'm pulling a 38' 10K lb TT with a stock 2WD excursion, with a Reese hitch.  This puts me at the upper end of this trucks capabilities.  Hopefully this Arrow hitch will make a difference.

Any other suggestions as to shocks, springs, sway bars on the truck are welcomed.
In fact, think I'll re-post this as a new question too.

Let me know if you order the Arrow and your experience with it.  I'll post mine when it comes in.

-Sheff
 

Carl L

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I'm pulling a 38' 10K lb TT with a stock 2WD excursion, with a Reese hitch.  This puts me at the upper end of this trucks capabilities.  Hopefully this Arrow hitch will make a difference.

Well the biggest engined Excursion according to Ford rates at 11,000.  You have the V10 or the Turbo-diesel?  If not, you are in trouble.  Are you sure about that 10K weight?  Have you weighed that trailer in a ready to travel condition?  If not, do so -- now, before you sink $3000 into a hitch that, tho admittedly excellent, may not help your problem.  A good hitch on a overloaded tow vehicle is a band aid on a cancer.

Any other suggestions as to shocks, springs, sway bars on the truck are welcomed.
In fact, think I'll re-post this as a new question too.

Get weighed.  Then let's see what is needed.

 

Gary RV_Wizard

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The Hensley is an outstanding hitch. Whether it is worth the huge price depends on whether you need its superior capabilities to tow safely.  A friend of mine towed a heavy 36 foot trailer with a short wheel base van and, while confident to drive it on long journeys, he always wrestled with it somewhat.  He bought a Hensley and reported a night-and-day difference in the handling.

You might also consider the Pullrite swiveling hitch. It is also supposed to provide superior handling. And it is a bit less expensive too.
 

sheff99

Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2006
Posts
21
Location
McKinney, TX
Carl, yes I agree.  I would like to get it weighed loaded up.  I need to find a place around
here to take it.  I copied down the proceedure from an earlier post (the a, b, and c measurements).

I have the 6.0L diesel.  Thank god, the V10 would kill me at the pump.  I've been getting about 10mpg
towing and about 20mpg hwy w/ no load.  I've been told some tune modules with better air intake
(~500-600$) can increase towing perf and mileage by 3-4mpgs.  Any experience with this?

If I'm not overloaded, I'm certainly at the upper end.  The deal assured me my truck could tow
any TT on his lot (probably typical).  Anyway, we have 4 little kids so we need the 'X'.  And we've
already bought the TT so I pretty much need to make this rig work, but I'm willing to do what I can
to make it a) as safe as possible and b) driver friendly.

I will get the weights and post.  I'll try to find a place this weekend.
My default plan (unless some of you advise strongly against or have better ideas):
- Hensly hitch ($3K - ouch!)
- Firestone rear air bags ($250)
- better dual action shocks from CamperWorld (I forget the name) ($400)
- Edge XL module + better air intake (basically new filter assymbly.  Adds ~70Hp, and 200lbs Tq.  ($600)

-Sheff
 

sheff99

Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2006
Posts
21
Location
McKinney, TX
RV Roamer said:
A former forum member (now deceased) got a Hensley Arrow hitch after having control problems towing a 36 foot travel trailer with a short wheelbase van. He said it worked wonders! For him, it was money well spent, since he had a lot invested in his custom van and did not want to change either van or trailer.

The question is, what sort of "improvement" are you looking for? If your present hitch is working fine, why change? There would have to be a darn good reason to spend $3000 or so.

Have you also considered the Pull Rite hitch? It is also an improved design versus the traditional style. I believe it is somewhat less expensive than the Hensley.

I found the same sort of testimonials in many group posts.  I also read good things about the pullrite too, though
it can be an installation problem the requires relocations of spare,...  due to the way it mounts.  I never saw
a price on it though.  Hensley seemed to be an easier solution that offers the best perf, albeit expensive. 

 

sheff99

Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2006
Posts
21
Location
McKinney, TX
Ok, sorry for multiple posts in a row...

Carl, I don't have exact weights yet, but does this line of thinking make sense?


-- Dry weight (according to manu) is 9500
-- Say I added 1000 lbs of non-water stuff in the trailer
-- That puts us somewhere around 10,000 give or take a few hundred.

For the moment, think of my dual TT axles as one pivot point.  With an approx
tongue weight of 1000lbs (900 dry), that means I have ~4000lb hanging off the back
of the axles, and ~5000lbs hanging in front of the axles in sort of a cantilevered situation
resulting in the 1000lb tongue weight.  Make sense?

This means when the TT and TV are in a steady state situation (stopped on flat surface or
running down a smooth flat road and const. velocity) tongue weight is ~1000lbs.  But,
hit a bump or dip in the road and now that 5000lbs in between the trailer axle and the TV axle
begins to make some big up and down gyrations and jerks in the TV.

It makes logic sense that better shocks and some airbags to help deal with this huge additional
weight/momentum on the TV. 

Does this line of thinking make sense?  I'm an engineer by trade (electrical actually, not mechanical)
which means I'm probably over analysing the situation, and probably incorrectly ;-) 
(I've been an engineer long enough to learn to respect experience of wiser folks!). 


-Sheff
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
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Posts
74,585
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
I'm curious why you have concluded you need a Hensley? Do you already have a weight distributing hitch? Any handling problems when using it?

Ditto for the performance chips - is there a performance problem? Or are you simply looking for the ultimate? Engineers often do...  ;)

Koni shocks would probably be an good investment. I'd try the shocks before I invested further in the air bags. Just about every enhancement you make diminishes the return on future enhancements, as you get closer to the ultimate goal. Asymptotic curve and all that.
 

Carl L

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Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
7,239
Location
west Los Angeles
Carl, I don't have exact weights yet, but does this line of thinking make sense?


-- Dry weight (according to manu) is 9500
-- Say I added 1000 lbs of non-water stuff in the trailer
-- That puts us somewhere around 10,000 give or take a few hundred.

Sounds like a swag to me.? But then being an engineer you understand swag, no?? ?;D

Since you have the trailer you have a better number available to you.? ?Look for the DOT plate on the drivers-side forward edge of the trailer.? On that plate you will see the number for Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).? ?That is the maximum weight + loading recommended for your trailer.? ?Use that for your trailer weight as a first order approximation.? Add 10% to it to give you a safety factor.? ?The resulting number should be less than your truck's tow rating of 11,000 lbs.? ?If you tow in the mountain or Pacific west, make that 10% into 20% to allow for high altitudes and long steep grades.? ?Remember that tow ratings evaluate engine, rear end ratio, transmission capacities, drive train and suspension strength, and brakes.? ?Shaving them is not a really great idea.

Remember this is a first approximation to trailer weight.? Even so it is a better approach to the issue than a swag.? The most rigorous approach is to load up your trailer for travel, and then haul the bloody thing down to a public scale and get it weighed.? ?Now you have a real number to compare to your tow rating, not a swag or an approximation.

Now if those numbers indicate that you are hauling an overweight trailer, you have a real problem that is solvable only by a bigger truck or a lighter trailer.? Remember those brakes, there is little that shocks or airbags are going to do for them.

For the sake of further discussion, let's assume you have crept under the limits and talk about anti-sway rigs.? With your weight of trailer, your tongue weight will be at least 1000-1100 lbs and could well be 1500 lbs.? If it is less that 1000 lbs that will destabilize your trailer and could be at least part of your problem.? ?When you weigh your trailer, determine that tongue (hitch) weight.? If it is less than 10% of trailer weight, it is a problem.? Correct that by adding weight forward of the wheels and removing it aft.? ?Weight nearest the hitch will have the most effect -- your trailer is a 2nd class lever.?

Now lets discuss your anti-sway rig.? ?You say you have a Reese unit.? That describes a range of products.? The big questions to aswer here are:

1.? What is the rating of your spring bars?? ? They come in 600, 800, 1200, and 1700 lb tensile strength ratings.? You should have no less than 1200 lbs.? ?Replace them if you do not.? They are cheap enough.

2.? ?Are you using friction sway controls or Dual Cam controls?? (To see click HERE.)? ?If you are using friction controls, you need two for your weight of trailer.? ?If you have the Dual Cam rig, be sure you have 1200 or, better yet, 1700 lbs spring bars.

A note:? ?Your receiver should be no less than a Class IV receiver with a capacity of 12,000 lbs trailer GVWR and 1200 lbs trailer tongue weight for a weight distributed load.? ?If it is not upgrade to a Class IV or even V.

I use a Reese Dual Cam on my 5000 lb trailer with a Class IV receiver, trunion spring bars rated at 1200 lbs to handle my scaled 750 lb tongue weight.? Unit is rock steady.? ?As you can see, I like safety factors.

The Hensley unit has an excellent reputation.? ?My rocket scientist buddy (Raytheon, Phd in electronics) has one for his liddle 25 footer and swears it is the best thing since sliced bread.? ?Its ease of hitching I can testify to.? ?If a cheap modification to your Reese unit does not suffice, you might well consider it.
Even so, maker sure that receiver is at least Class IV.
 

sheff99

Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2006
Posts
21
Location
McKinney, TX
RV Roamer said:
I'm curious why you have concluded you need a Hensley? Do you already have a weight distributing hitch? Any handling problems when using it?

Ditto for the performance chips - is there a performance problem? Or are you simply looking for the ultimate? Engineers often do... ;)

Koni shocks would probably be an good investment. I'd try the shocks before I invested further in the air bags. Just about every enhancement you make diminishes the return on future enhancements, as you get closer to the ultimate goal. Asymptotic curve and all that.

Yes, I have the top of the line Reese hitch that funtime RV displays.  It's seems pretty heavy duty.  It has the sway
control built into the load leveling arms.

Good input on the shocks.  Assume you mean the TV not the TT?  I found a good price on some Bilsteins so ordered
those last night.  I'll try them first.  I am getting a little droop in the back once the TT's hooked up (i.e. the back
is about 1-2" lower than the front) even when the hitch bars are snugged up.  Is this to be expected? Will this
hurt my handling?

Yes, like I detailed a few posts earlier in this thread, I'm having some serious sway, bounce, and wandering problems.
I had a REAL bad oscillation that I just managed to control in a very tight situation. 

The sway is my biggest concern as it feels like the most dangerous in terms of control issues.
I'd say the wandering is probably next on the safety list as it takes your constant, full attention and
effort to keep it centered in lane (of course the sway and other passing traffic exacerbates this). 
Next, the bounce wound probably be second order on safety but can not be good for my rig and tires/suspension/...

As you can see, I have quite a few issues to resolve.  We're heading out for thanksgiving week so I'd like
to make some progress on improving things before then.

I thought some basic things that couldn't hurt (other than the pocket book) that I'd go ahead
and do are:
0) get weighed to make sure everything is as expected and I have ~10% TT weight on the hitch
1) put new shocks and a real stabilizer on the Excursion 2x4 6.0L dsl (and test it)
2) add the Firestone airbags (evaluate impact)
3) put the Arrow on (see if it helps sway - can allways return for 60days - they even pay shipping)
4) add mild tuner module and better air intake (will add ~150# tq and 2-4MPG).

The price of the Hensley more or less dwarfs the cost of the other stuff, which will only help the
perf and mileage of the 'X' anyway (except the airbags).  So I'm going to go with this, but I will
put on one at a time to keep change down to a single variable at a time.  Don't have enough
time and patience to remove one add the next item, which would be really interesting  :)

What do you think about putting shocks on the TT?  Monroe sells a conversion kit and it
would run less than $300 to put four shocks on (tandem axles).  Don't know enough about
the impact of this so still investing/seeking advice.


 

sheff99

Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2006
Posts
21
Location
McKinney, TX
Carl Lundquist said:
Sounds like a swag to me.  But then being an engineer you understand swag, no?  ;D

Since you have the trailer you have a better number available to you.  Look for the DOT plate on the drivers-side forward edge of the trailer.  On that plate you will see the number for Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).  That is the maximum weight + loading recommended for your trailer.  Use that for your trailer weight as a first order approximation.  Add 10% to it to give you a safety factor.  The resulting number should be less than your truck's tow rating of 11,000 lbs.  If you tow in the mountain or Pacific west, make that 10% into 20% to allow for high altitudes and long steep grades.  Remember that tow ratings evaluate engine, rear end ratio, transmission capacities, drive train and suspension strength, and brakes.  Shaving them is not a really great idea.

Remember this is a first approximation to trailer weight.  Even so it is a better approach to the issue than a swag.  The most rigorous approach is to load up your trailer for travel, and then haul the bloody thing down to a public scale and get it weighed.  Now you have a real number to compare to your tow rating, not a swag or an approximation.

Now if those numbers indicate that you are hauling an overweight trailer, you have a real problem that is solvable only by a bigger truck or a lighter trailer.  Remember those brakes, there is little that shocks or airbags are going to do for them.

Hi Carl.  The TT's at the storage place, but from the forestriver website, the 321BHT has a GVWR of 12900.  As you can see, this over my rating.  They claim dry weight is 9400.  That leaves me <2000 lbs of stuff
so we try to be conscience of this when we load up.  Eitherway you slice it, we're at the upper end so my goal
is to make the best, safest driving setup that I can.

The trail has it's own electrical brakes, and it's set so that the braking feels fairly normal.

Besides, the salesman said I could tow anything on his lot with my truck  ;)

Carl Lundquist said:
For the sake of further discussion, let's assume you have crept under the limits and talk about anti-sway rigs.  With your weight of trailer, your tongue weight will be at least 1000-1100 lbs and could well be 1500 lbs.  If it is less that 1000 lbs that will destabilize your trailer and could be at least part of your problem.  When you weigh your trailer, determine that tongue (hitch) weight.  If it is less than 10% of trailer weight, it is a problem.  Correct that by adding weight forward of the wheels and removing it aft.  Weight nearest the hitch will have the most effect -- your trailer is a 2nd class lever. 

Now lets discuss your anti-sway rig.  You say you have a Reese unit.  That describes a range of products.  The big questions to answer here are:

1.  What is the rating of your spring bars?    They come in 600, 800, 1200, and 1700 lb tensile strength ratings.  You should have no less than 1200 lbs.  Replace them if you do not.  They are cheap enough.

2.  Are you using friction sway controls or Dual Cam controls?  (To see click HERE.)  If you are using friction controls, you need two for your weight of trailer.  If you have the Dual Cam rig, be sure you have 1200 or, better yet, 1700 lbs spring bars.

A note:  Your receiver should be no less than a Class IV receiver with a capacity of 12,000 lbs trailer GVWR and 1200 lbs trailer tongue weight for a weight distributed load.  If it is not upgrade to a Class IV or even V.

I use a Reese Dual Cam on my 5000 lb trailer with a Class IV receiver, trunion spring bars rated at 1200 lbs to handle my scaled 750 lb tongue weight.  Unit is rock steady.  As you can see, I like safety factors.

The Hensley unit has an excellent reputation.  My rocket scientist buddy (Raytheon, Phd in electronics) has one for his liddle 25 footer and swears it is the best thing since sliced bread.  Its ease of hitching I can testify to.  If a cheap modification to your Reese unit does not suffice, you might well consider it.
Even so, maker sure that receiver is at least Class IV.

Yes, I will get it weighed this week to make get some better numbers and check the hitch weight.

On the questions:
1) Well, that's a damn good question.  From memory, I thought they were 1000lb bars which I agree is too low.
I just went to the webpage, and according to the picture, the one they sold me as the Draw-Tight Round Round Bar
weight distribution system.  The Funtime RV guy told me this was the best they sold (and most expensive)
and has built in sway which is superior to the resistance sway deal.  But after looking at the Reese webpage,
they don't claim this has ANY sway control, only a sway control platform.  Could this be right?  Could this setup
not have ANY sway control????  That would greatly piss me off!  I will be on the phone tomorrow.

2) I think above touched on this one.

Thanks for continuing to drill on me about the hitch - I guess one should never take a salesmans word for anything.

Think I'll still upgrade some components on the 'X' though since I'm pushing it's limits. 

-sheff
 
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