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Old 07-21-2016, 08:53 PM   #1
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My experience with Hensley and Blue Ox

Little back story to set the tone...

My wifes mother spent her last year and a half living with us while she was going through cancer that ultimately took her. After she passed, my wife decided that we need to get back to our normal lives and make up for the previous 1.5 years where we had to turn some of our attention away from the kids. So she said.. "Lets get an RV."

I have held a Class A CDL for around 20 years pulling all sorts of things down the road, but never anything larger than a 20' cargo trailer behind a pick up. So when my wife settled on a 36' OAL trailer, I started doing my research on hitch set-ups and quickly found the Hensley. Bonus was they are a MI company and I love supporting my home state.

So, after getting an installation issue resolved, I got the hitch set-up, got my weights where they needed to be, and we hit to road to New Mexico. Hitch worked flawlessly. Kept the trailer tracking nicely behind the 2016 Ram 2500.

We had a couple issues come up while on the road and when we got back 2 weeks later, set an appointment with our dealer to get them resolved. Knowing that it would be easier for them to move the trailer around without the Hensley attached I removed it from the trailer and was going to pull it there on just a ball. The truck can handle the 1000 pounds of tongue and its only 15 minutes from here. Heres where it got interesting....

Without the hensley attached, and the tongue sitting on a 3" drop insert I got the same amount of drop in the rear and lift in the front. I thought... "thats interesting." Then I started to think back to watching front of the trailer move around in relation to the back of the truck while going down the road and something came to me....

With the extra distance the Hensley puts the coupler back from the truck, it increases the amount of leverage placed on the hitch. So my weight bars not only had to take up some of the weight on the ball, but they also had to compensate for the extra force placed on the hitch due to the increased distance.

That got me thinking that a "regular" WD hitch may work just fine. So I did some more research and settled on the Blue Ox unit. It arrived in time for me to install it prior to pulling the trailer back to the dealer so I got it hooked up and then took the long way to the dealer, about an hour.

I was pleasantly surprised to feel that the Blue Ox not only instilled the same security in driving, but actually did just as well keeping the trailer under control as the Hensley. I was also able to get a hair more weight on the front axle, but nothing worth writing home about.
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Old 07-22-2016, 08:39 AM   #2
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Yeah, the good high-end WD hitches such as Reese Strait-Line, Blue Ox and Equal-I-Zer do just as good a job of weight distribution and sway control as the much-more-expensive Hensley Arrow and ProPride for 99% of towing conditions. The difference doesn't show up under normal towing conditions. The Blue Ox should be just as good as the Hensley under 99% of towing conditions. That other 1% of towing conditions is the reason I have a ProPride on my TT. Crooked road, slick with rain or snow, chug hole in the curve of the road, and meeting an 18-wheeler barreling down the road at high speed, all at the same time, is that other 1% of towing conditions. You didn't have a similar combination of towing conditions with your short tows, so you didn't notice the difference. Under those extreme conditions, my ProPride hitch does the job whereas the Blue Ox (or other premium hitches that list for around $1,000) may not).

But you probably won't notice the difference until you experience those extreme conditions.

ProPride is the updated version of the original Hensley Arrow, both designed by a guy named Jim Hensley.

If you have ever experienced uncontrollable trailer sway, then you'll probably pay the big bucks for a Hensley Arrow or ProPride to help insure it never happens again.
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Old 07-22-2016, 08:40 PM   #3
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You do make a good point.

However,

If I encounter a condition where everything is set up perfectly to induce an uncontrollable trailer scenario, Ill never know if I would have been better off with a different hitch because I wont have said hitch in play when the perfect storm hit.

Even though I traveled a limited distance with the Ox, I was really expecting to feel something noticeably different in the handling between the 2 hitches. And the roads here in MI can regularly, and with ease, provide conditions that will test the medal of any experienced traveler. I felt just as secure with the Ox as I did the Hensley.

The push/pull characteristics while being passed or passing were exactly the same. The trailer felt locked at the ball and pushed/pulled the entire unit at the same time.

There was noticeably less porpoising between the two and while I recognize this is usually a function of how the weight bars are set up, I was unable to use another link on the Hensley bars simply due to design limitations. I suppose I could have stepped up to the 1400# bars but that doesn't resolve the fact that some of the bars energy is being used to negate the increased distance between the coupler and the vehicle hitch. So are the 1000# bars really good for a 1000# max tongue weight or should that be limited to, say 800#?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the Hensley. Its a solid design and does what it's marketed and engineered to do. I simply haven't seen many folks go back to a regular weight distribution set-up and I just wanted to chronicle my experience.

Price is an important factor and when I started looking, I wanted THE BEST and SAFEST for my family. The Hensley had the history and the reviews. But its hard to ignore almost $3000 versus $600.
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Old 07-23-2016, 06:28 AM   #4
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nice writeup.
i'd compare it to a 2000 car to a 2016 car. sure, there are alot of safety features on the 2016 vs the 2000 but then you have to get into that 1 in a million car accident. I've been driving for roughly 30 years, been in a few accidents but nothing where an airbag would've made a critical difference for me.

So, you gotta ask yourself one question. "do you feel lucky?" enough to save $2400? That $$ can be so useful elsewhere.

Jim
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Old 07-23-2016, 08:23 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eipo View Post
Price is an important factor and when I started looking, I wanted THE BEST and SAFEST for my family. The Hensley had the history and the reviews. But its hard to ignore almost $3000 versus $600.
My ProPride cost $2,345 for a new one. I found a used one for a lot less from a guy that was upgrading from a TT to a motorhome.
Trailer Sway Control Hitch Guaranteed to Eliminate Trailer Sway - ProPride 3P

My Reese Strait-Line (equivalent to the Blue Ox) on my cargo trailer cost about $700 way back when, but you can buy one today for about $550.
https://www.etrailer.com/Weight-Dist...e/RP66084.html

That's less than $2,000 difference. Yeah, it's still hard to ignore that $2,000 difference. And most people will never encounter towing conditions that would make the difference worthwhile. But I'm glad I have the ProPride when I take off on a 4,000-mile RV trip, such as Midland TX to St. Marys GA or Midland TX to Sequim WA.

Quote:
I was unable to use another link on the Hensley bars simply due to design limitations.
That must be one of the changes to the ProPride. My ProPride doesn't use links to adjust the tension on the spring bars.. It uses a large screw, similar to a tongue jack, on each spring bar, to adjust the tension. And you can add or subtract anywhere from a tiny amount to a lot of tension on each spring bar by simply turning the screw. I have the 1,400-pound spring bars, but my tongue weight is only about 650 pounds, so I don't have the spring bars anywhere near as tight as they will go. But it tows great without even a hint of sway, based on a few of those 4,000 mile jaunts as well as several trips of less than 700 miles round trip thru the Hill Country to the Austin area.
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Old 07-23-2016, 10:48 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokeyWren View Post
My ProPride cost $2,345 for a new one. I found a used one for a lot less from a guy that was upgrading from a TT to a motorhome.
Trailer Sway Control Hitch Guaranteed to Eliminate Trailer Sway - ProPride 3P

My Reese Strait-Line (equivalent to the Blue Ox) on my cargo trailer cost about $700 way back when, but you can buy one today for about $550.
https://www.etrailer.com/Weight-Dist...e/RP66084.html

That's less than $2,000 difference. Yeah, it's still hard to ignore that $2,000 difference. And most people will never encounter towing conditions that would make the difference worthwhile. But I'm glad I have the ProPride when I take off on a 4,000-mile RV trip, such as Midland TX to St. Marys GA or Midland TX to Sequim WA.
We got back about 3 weeks ago from a trip to Alb. NM from MI. The Hensley worked as it should. I would also have no issues making the same trip with the Ox.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokeyWren View Post
That must be one of the changes to the ProPride. My ProPride doesn't use links to adjust the tension on the spring bars.. It uses a large screw, similar to a tongue jack, on each spring bar, to adjust the tension. And you can add or subtract anywhere from a tiny amount to a lot of tension on each spring bar by simply turning the screw. I have the 1,400-pound spring bars, but my tongue weight is only about 650 pounds, so I don't have the spring bars anywhere near as tight as they will go. But it tows great without even a hint of sway, based on a few of those 4,000 mile jaunts as well as several trips of less than 700 miles round trip thru the Hill Country to the Austin area.
The Hensley still has the option of the screw jacks, but due to how I was laying out my trailer tongue, I opted for the snap up brackets. I was afraid the jacks would be in the way.

I never noticed any sway independent of my truck with the Hensley either. Nor did I notice any with the Ox. The feeling while being passed was exactly the same.
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Old 12-07-2016, 08:30 AM   #7
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I had different results when using a Blue Ox and the going to a ProPride version of the Hensley. Possibly the 1/2 ton vs a 3/4 ton truck makes a difference.

I have a 1/2 ton F150. It's a 2016 model year which has lots of alluminum making it lighter than previous years. I am towing a 32 foot Grand Design with a max Weight of 7,490 lbs.

I had moderate sway in windy condition with the Blue Ox. I tried all sorts of setup tricks and even bought a 1,400 lb spring bar set to try. Once where I got hit with a high crosswind gust it really scared me.

I bought a ProPride and it made the truck/trailer feel like they are locked together. We had some good winds the other day as a front was passing through. WOW, solid towing with no sign of sway.

Both Hensley and ProPride are selling their remanufactured hitches on eBay for between $1500-$1995, with 60 day money back if they don't eliminate sway. They also have the same lifetime guaranty as new.

I went with a ProPride because it seems that the powder coating finish has been holding up better than the Hensley's I've seen. I also like the adjustable stinger of the ProPride where you can change the height and angle if needed of changing tow vehicles.

I find it easier to hitch up than my Blue Ox when using the truck backup camera. Also the spring bars don't need to be removed when unhitching as they are mounted on the trailer side only.
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Old 12-07-2016, 09:31 AM   #8
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A little hard to imagine a TT 36' OAL having a TW at or under 1k.

Thus, not a fair comparison, though the observation about leverage is correct. It just doesn't add enough length to make the changes suggested.

I've been pulling TTs 43-years. Third generation on aero all aluminum. 20-years with CDL.

So here's an observation. My trailer will go down the road on the ball with no WDH and handle crosswinds as well as your conventional square box with the BO.

Take from this that the difference between the BO and nothing is less than the jump to a Hensley Hitch from the BO.

When keeping the trailer locked to the TV and the rear axle of said TV unmoved by TT action . . THAT is where the rubber meets the road.

And, why the non-starter argument about "cost" comes up in discussions about new combined rigs retailed at over $100k is silly.
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Old 12-07-2016, 10:00 AM   #9
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've always understood that any of the "friction" based WD units will help to control sway, whereas the Hensley/ProPride will eliminate sway.

Is this a true statement?

Ron
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Old 12-07-2016, 10:59 AM   #10
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Quote:
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've always understood that any of the "friction" based WD units will help to control sway, whereas the Hensley/ProPride will eliminate sway.

Is this a true statement?

Ron


Close enough.

Conventional type "resists" sway as a function of angle. TT to TV. More or less per design, and per spring bar bend.

It's only a few hundred pounds.

A VPP hitch has linkage that "locks up". TT cannot initiate movement. Only TV.

What is confusing on this, for many, is terrible steering feedback. 4WD straight axle with worm sector gearing. No news must be good news, is how it plays out. Why many believe a one ton superior to a half ton. (It isn't).

One can follow such a rig and see constant side/side TT movement. With a VPP style hitch, no movement at all.

With a better TV the differences are apparent at the wheel.
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