Hensley Hitch Install
Sway is a big issue when you're towing a bumper pull trailer. From wind to large vehicles passing by, there are a lot of factors that can send you into a tail sway. It's scary and can make driving long distances exhausting. The Hensley Hitch has a reputation of nearly eliminating sway completely. So, we took the leap to switch from an Equil-i-zer to a Hensley to see if the hype was real.
The first step to sway-free trailering was to get the massive hitch installed. Check out the video of our installation below. Then, follow along with our installation process step by step. This is NOT installation instructions, but rather a chance for you to learn from our mistakes. Please be sure to follow the instructions from Hensley if you are installing your own hitch.
To find the Hensley Arrow Owners Manual, you can find that here: https://www.hensleymfg.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Hensley-Arrow-and-Cub-Owners-Manual.pdf
Step One • Find Level Ground
Before you start, you should find level ground for both your trailer and your tow vehicle. Installing your hitch on level ground is the best way to ensure proper installation of your hitch. Our install was done on a slightly unlevel surface, and we had to make adjustments after we had completed the installation. Do yourself a favor and find some level ground to make life after installation easier! But, if you're like us and you couldn't move your trailer because you had no hitch installed, know that you can make adjustments afterward when you get to level ground. But, we don't suggest doing your install on very uneven or unlevel ground!
Step Two • Install the Stinger
The Hensley has a unique hitch, a straight "stinger". The stinger, or hitch bar, fits into your hitch receiver just like any ball hitch would. Simply slide it in and pin it! You should make sure your hitch sleeve is the proper size during this process. We found out ours was not and we had some issues with movement from the trailer. It turns out it was because the stinger could move back and forth in the receiver because our sleeve was just slightly too big!
Step Three • Attach the Hitch Box (The Bright Orange Thing)
After the stinger is secured on the tow vehicle, it's time to slide the hitch box on the stinger. The hitch box is the bright orange part of the hitch that makes everyone stop and ask you what kind of a set up you have. They didn't go for discrete on this one. Once you line up the center stickers, you should be able to easily slide the hitch box onto the stinger. Be prepared though, it is a bit heavy. The Arrow weighs nearly 200lbs and that hitch box seems to be the bulk of it!
Step Four • Secure Over Center Latches
To secure the hitch box on the stinger, you'll need to secure the over center latch. These are the arms on the hitch box. To secure them you'll need the OCL Wrench provided by Hensley. The gold piece can be adjusted to easily hook onto the stinger. The pressure should be about what you have to use to close vice grips, so it shouldn't be difficult, but it also shouldn't be too easy. If you feel it's too hard or too easy, simply unscrew or screw the gold piece until it feels right. Once the Latches are secure, you pin each latch in place.
Step Five • Grease the Ball
Next you liberally grease the ball on the hitch box. Don't be shy with the grease here because from this point on, the hitch box will be permanently installed on your trailer using this ball. Like I say in the video, grease it like the kids would! We used an EP grease you can find here.
Step Six • Attach Hitch to the Trailer
It's time to hitch up the trailer, using the ball on the Hitch Box. You'll back your tow vehicle up with the hitch box attached, just like you would any other hitch. Once lined up correctly, you drop the coupler down onto the ball as if you were hitching up to a "normal" hitch. You'll pin the ball in place and now the hitch box stays on the trailer indefinitely.
Step Seven • Install Frame Brackets
The frame brackets are installed to the frame of your trailer, 25.5 inches back from the middle of the coupler. To make this step easier we installed the brackets loosely with the U-bolt so we could properly measure the distance and move the bracket where it needed to be. You may need to remove your propane cover and tanks for easier access on this step. Then, once the frame is in the right location, torque the U-bolts to the appropriate specifications.
Step Eight • Drill & Bolt
Once you have the bracket in the correct place, you need to select two holes on each bracket to drill out to bolt the bracket directly to the frame. This was where we made our biggest mistake. We selected what we thought would be easy holes, but as it turned out we couldn't fit the bolt through the holes on the frame bracket, so it became a difficult step. Our suggestion is to make sure you can get the bolts into the spot you pick before you drill that hole! We also highly suggest remeasuring before you drill and make sure the bracket didn't move before it got tightened down. Then, bolt it down!
Step Nine • Install the Jack
The first thing to do when you're ready to install the jack is to lubricate the mounting pin. Then, you'll have to extend the jack fully to install it on the hitch. We used a drill with a 3/4 socket to make the process go a bit more quickly. Or you can use the wrench from Hensley. Be sure when you're mounting the jack you have the barrel leaning towards the tow vehicle. We put ours on backwards the first time around!
Step Ten • Install the Spring Bars
With the jack installed, it's time to move on to the spring bars. You'll grease the part that goes into the hitch, so again, make sure to grease the bars like your kids would. Then, insert the bar into the main hitch until it locks in place. This went smoothly for us and was a quick step in the process.
Step Eleven • Connect Spring Bars & Jack
You'll need to locate the height indicators on your jack for the next step. We thought they
were a bit hard to see, because they're just indentations on the jack. However, after a little use they became easier to see. For now, you might have to look hard to find them! Once they're facing the right direction, you're ready to attach the jack to the spring bar.
We had to tighten the jack just a bit to get the holes on the jack to line up with the bracket on the spring bar. Once we had the holes lined up it was easy to pin the jack and spring bar in place with the provided locking pin.
Step Twelve • Strut Assembly
The strut assembly attaches to the hitch box and the jack and MUST be parallel to your trailer frame. We really, really suggest reading the instructions on this part...because, well, it was a bit complicated. We got it figured out, but it took us a few read-throughs. Our biggest tips are, make sure the sleeve slides towards the trailer when you're installing the bar. Then, be sure you select the hole on the strut bar that gets the bar parallel with the frame. If these bars are off, towing will be off, too! Take your time on this piece and be sure to get it right.
Step Thirteen • Detach the Stinger from the Vehicle
Once the strut assembly is on, you need to adjust the struts. To do this, you have to detach the stinger from the tow vehicle, leaving the stinger in the Hensley. This releases any pressure the tow vehicle may be causing and allows you to properly center the hitch on the trailer. It seemed weird to me to leave the stinger in the hitch and pull away, but it makes since once you start adjusting the strut bars!
Step Fourteen • Adjust the Struts
Now that you're detached from the tow vehicle, you'll adjust the struts. You'll want to tighten the struts by turning the nut to move it towards the trailer. You'll know the struts are adjusted properly when the bars are sold and the hitch is held firmly in place perpendicular to the trailer. Then, once tightened, you use the sleeve to tighten the struts one final half turn.
Then, that's it! You've got a Hensley Hitch installed and ready to go! Check back for our Hensley Hook Up post to learn how to hitch up. There is definitely a learning curve to the Hensley, so you'll want to check out that post to make your curve a bit smaller!
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