Hensley Hitch Hook Up & Unhitch
When we made the decision to make the switch to the Hensley Hitch, the hooking and unhooking processes seemed a bit daunting. It was so different from the weight distribution hitch we used previously, we knew there would be a learning curve we would have to overcome.
Fortunately, it wasn't a big learning curve and we quickly discovered the Hensley was just as easy, if not easier, than our weight distribution hitch to manage. Below we'll walk you through the steps for hooking up to your trailer with the Hensley Hitch and unhitching. We will share what we have learned so your learning curve can be even smaller than ours!
If you're looking to install your Hensley Hitch, you can find that post here.
This post does not replace the Hensley Arrow Owners Manual! Instead, it is simply our method for hooking up and unhooking from the Hensley Hitch. Please refer to the Owners Manual before hooking and unhooking.
Hooking Up to the Hensley Hitch
Step One • Insert the Stinger
Insert the Stinger (also known as a Hitch Bar) into the receiver on your tow vehicle and secure the Stinger using a Hitch Pin. This should be a relatively familiar step, because it simply replaces the the ball mount you use on a traditional bumper pull hitch. Any drop or rise you might need is built into the stinger. Hensley is fantastic getting you the right Stinger for your tow vehicle. If you don't have the correct drop for your trailer to be level, contact Hensley. For more information on the Stinger, see our installation post.
Step Two • Alight the Hitch Box
To ensure the singer can be properly inserted into the hitch, you will need to make sure the box is centered and level. If the orange box (Hitch Box) on the Hensley is not level and centered the stinger will not fit properly fit and will stop short of full insertion causing you to
not be able to secure the over center latches. To get it right on the first try, back your tow vehicle up as close to the trailer as possible to find the proper angle and height for the hitch box. The two white center stickers on the Hensley need to be aligned for the stinger to insert properly, and you will need to be in a straight line with the stinger.
Pro Tip If you don't have anyone with you to hold the hitch in place to keep the two white stickers lined up, use the over center latch helper bar to keep the hitch aligned. Just remember to remove the bar before attempting to fully insert the stinger.
Step Three • Lubricate the Stinger
One of the best things you can do to alleviate any Hensley Hitch headaches is to lubricate
the stinger before each use. You can use the Hensley without lubricating the stinger, but it WILL cause you problems. It is more difficult to properly insert the stinger into the hitch box and it can get stuck in the hitch box when it's time to unhook. Save yourself the headaches and lubricate each time. We use CRC Power Lube. You don't need much, just a few sprays to make sure you have lubricant on all sides and you're good to go. Don't leave home without it!
Step Four • Insert the Stinger in the Hitch Box
Once you're centered on the hitch box and the Stinger is properly lubricated you will back up the tow vehicle to insert the Stinger into the Hitch Box. You will reverse until the wide part
of the stinger is completely inserted. If you cannot insert the stinger until the wide part is completely inside the hitch box, your hitch is likely unlevel or uncentered. Adjust the height of the tongue jack until the stinger can slide into place or pull forward and adjust to center on your hitch box. You will know you're far enough into the hitch box when the over center latches can be secured.
Step Five • Secure the Over Center Latches
The Over Center Latches are the bars that swing forward from the hitch. There is a large brass bolt on both latches that slide into the hooks on the Stinger. Using the Over Center Latch Wrench hook the latches in place. It should take the strength of closing vice grips to get the over center latches into place. If it is too hard or too easy, adjust the bolt by tightening or loosening it until the proper strength is reached.
Step Six • Latch the Over Center Latches
Once the Over Center Latches are in place, secure them using the pins provided by Hensley. Simply slip them into the holes on the stinger and secure them by clipping the loop over the stinger.
Step Seven • Safety Chains, Brake Line, & Electrical
With the hitch secured, it's time to hook up your safety chains (being sure to cross them, like you do on a traditional bumper pull hitch), the emergency brake line, and electrical. Because of the size of the Hensley, some people do find they need an extension for their chains, brake line, or electrical.
Step Eight • Adjust the Weight Distribution
Adjusting the weight distribution is easiest using a power drill. You'll find the setting you like
most for your comfort and rig. On the jacks there are lines to indicate the level of distribution with the top being the least and the bottom being the most. You will tighten the jacks using a 3/4" ratchet wrench (or drill) to your desired level of weight distribution. You should adjust to the same level on each side.
Step Nine • Lift the Tongue Jack
With everything properly secured and adjusted it's time to lift the tongue jack and place the weight of the trailer on the tow vehicle...and then you're ready to go! Remove your chocks and do your final walk around before taking off!
Unhitching from the Hensley Hitch
Step One • Set the Park Brake & Chock the Wheels
Before unhooking from any hitch you should always set your parking break and chock your trailer wheels. We love our heavy duty rubber chocks and highly recommend them! We also suggest checking to make sure your hook ups all reach before starting to unhook the trailer!
Step Two • Lower the Tongue Jack
To start the process of unhitching, lower the tongue jack to the ground to take some of the weight of the trailer off of the tow vehicle.
Step Three • Release the Weight Distribution
Using the same 3/4" ratcheting wrench (or drill) loosen the weight distribution jacks until there is no tension remaining. They should be loose, but don't unscrew them too far or the jack will come out!
Step Four • Unhook Electrical, Safety Chains, and Brake Line
Just like with any hitch, before unhooking from the tow vehicle you must unhook your electrical cord, safety chains, and brake line from the vehicle.
Step Five • Remove Over Center Latch Pins
Before you can remove the over center latches you must remove the pins from the Stinger holding the Over Center Latches in place.
Step Six • Reverse Slightly
One of the issues we had with the Hensley Arrow was getting our hand pinned between the Over Center Latch Wrench and the Hitch Box. We discovered this was happening because there was tension on the over center latches from the latches holding the stinger in place. We found we could elevate this tension by reversing the truck every so slightly after we released the weight distribution. You do not need to move your trailer in reverse or anything, simply letting the truck roll back slightly is enough in most cases.
Step Seven • Release Over Center Latches
Using the Over Center Latch wrench, unhook the over center latches. If the over center
latches don't come off relatively easily we suggest you reverse farther until it becomes easier to avoid getting your hand pinched. We also highly recommend pushing on the Over Center Latch Wrench from the outside and keeping your hands clear from between the wrench and the trailer.
Step Eight • Remove the Stinger from the Hitch Box
Once the over center latches are clear, you're ready to pull the tow vehicle forward and remove the stinger from the hitch box. You only need to pull forward enough to clear the stinger from the hitch.
Step Nine • Remove Stinger from Tow Vehicle
This last step is optional, but we do recommend it. The Stinger is very long and protrudes from the tow vehicle quite a ways. So, we always take the stinger out of the truck..mostly to protect our shins! It also makes it easier to maneuver our already giant truck in parking lots, etc. without the added length of the Stinger!