Frequently Asked Questions of the Hensley Arrow FAQ
Which tows better? A travel trailer or a 5th wheel?
Until recently, that answer would have been easy. The 5th wheel trailer has been the most stable and safe RV in the towable category. The inherent tendacy of a travel trailer to sway, no matter what type of sway control hitch is used, made them very unstable and accident prone.
With the introduction of the Hensley Arrow in 1993, however, that all changed. The Hensley Arrow does not use friction to control sway. Instead, we used geometry and physics to create a hitch that made it impossible for the trailer to sway. The linkage system on the Hensley transfers the pivot point of the trailer 52″ forward, over the rear axle of the vehicle, giving the travel trailer the stability of the 5th wheel. The linkage system only allows the tow vehicle to initiate a turn. Any side forces (wind, passing trucks, sudden lane changes, etc.) placed on the trailer cannot make the trailer pivot on the pivot point. Essentially, from the trailer forward, you have a solid unit.
But why is travel trailer better? By eliminating sway, we’ve taken away the biggest advantage a 5th wheel holds over a travel trailer. But a travel trailer also gives you:
- lower wind resistance…better gas mileage
- a level floor plan
- choice of tow vehicle (car, SUV, truck)
- cost savings of at least $10,000
- a much more comfortable ride
- easier re-sale
More questions? Click on the “Watch Video” tab at the top of this page. Fill out the information and we’ll send you a complete information package, including a 25 minute DVD. Or call 800-410-6580. We’ll be happy to answer your questions.
How does the Hensley Arrow hitch eliminate trailer sway? Isn’t trailer sway an inherent problem with travel trailers, only controlled through the use of friction?
The Hensley Arrow and Cub take advantage of a set of two linkages that converge and, in essence, create a trapezoid where the ball/hitch joint used to be. The geometric layout of the two converging links only allows flexing of the trapezoid from the tow vehicle side of the combination. It produces the best of two worlds.
First, from the tow vehicle side, this design allows for totally free movement of the tow vehicle (the tow vehicle has 100% control over the trailer). When the tow vehicle turns or changes direction, the trailer has to follow. There is no friction involved as in any other sway control hitch.
Second, side forces (wind, passing trucks, uneven roads, etc.) cannot cause the trailer to pivot on the ball or linkage system. From the trailer end, it is acting like a straight truck. It is practically impossible for your travel trailer to sway.
Any other sway control hitch uses friction. Only the Hensley sway elimination hitch uses geometry and physics to mechanically eliminate travel trailer sway.
How does the Hensley Arrow differ from a conventional friction sway system?
As noted above, sway is eliminated by making the vehicle combination act like a straight truck. The way a friction system works is to try its best to keep a trailer from becoming a trailer. By shear force it tries to create a straight truck. The problem of sway is between the joint of the trailer and the tow vehicle. Eliminate the joint and you will never have sway, it is 100% impossible. So in theory, so far so good, friction works just fine. Now, add this part of the story:
The same sway bar that keeps the trailer straight, also keeps the trailer at any given angle. For any number of reasons (lane changes, truck air wave, emergency maneuvers, etc.), when sway starts, you have created an angle between the trailer and the tow vehicle. The sway bar is now working with the same amount of force to keep the trailer in the sway (or at the angle), as it was when it was trying to keep it out of sway. It is actually a very simple physics fact, the friction device is the worst possible design (it is a bad bandage). Think about an emergency lane change, which is in essence, a slalom course you never planned on being in.
The key word is “force.” Ask anyone that understands their friction system and they will invariably use the word “force.” We do not believe, and have not seen to date, that a friction system has enough “force” to control a 5000 pound hunk of steel on wheels. Think about that for a minute, a person is relying on a small friction slide system to do two opposing actions:
- To slide and allow movement when needed.
- And then to hold 100% true when it needs to.
Any engineer would tell you that this is not possible. You are asking a simple friction device to “think.”
It is a common belief that a conventional friction anti-sway system is a simple mechanical fix. It is, in fact, just the opposite. It has any number of variations to contend with including:
- No way of knowing how tight the system is set, or how tight to set it;
- As the system heats (which it does quickly), the friction coefficient changes
- Vibration can loosen the tension on the system;
- Rain can effect the level of friction when the bar gets wet;
- And so on…
The friction system is, in fact, a physics nightmare. The Hensley Arrow is on the opposite side of the scale. It does not rely on any friction device. It is a free-flowing system. By simple geometry, the Hensley eliminates movement caused by forces on the side of the trailer and allows the tow vehicle to completely control the direction of the trailer. The problem is eliminated. There is nothing to “set,” “adjust,” or “tension” (Note: there is still weight distribution, but that is a different issue).
Is weight distribution equipment included on the Arrow system?
The Hensley Arrow system is all inclusive. The only other equipment you need is a properly rated 2″ receiver on your tow vehicle. Of course, the proper trailer/tow vehicle wiring is also needed. One of the main advantages (one that has attracted many of our owners) is this inclusive design. There are no weight distribution spring bar to take on and off. They stay with the system already “mounted” on the trailer.
With the design of the spring bar controls, you can have infinite adjustment on the ride and “feel” of the trailer/tow combination…you can adjust the ride and feel. This ability to adjust is particularly handy because you can stop, on-the-road, and make fine adjustments based on your needs at the time. Many of our owners find that this adjustment is so convenient they change the adjustment for husband and wife tastes in driving feel.
Can I install the Hensley Arrow myself?
Yes. The hitch was designed from the beginning to be installed by the end user. A complete step-by-step installation manual, with pictures, is provided. There is also the free 800 number to call for factory direct assistance.
What if I change tow vehicles or trailers?
Changing tow vehicles or trailers is no problem at all. In fact, the hitch was designed from the start to account for such changes. If you change trailers, the hitch transfers fully to the new trailer with all the same parts.
If you change tow vehicles it is possible that you will need a different hitch bar. The hitch bar is what makes up any differences the tow vehicle and the trailer might have in height. If you need a different hitch bar we have a lifetime exchange program. Order the hitch bar that you need and we will ship it to you. When you return the old hitch bar, we credit your account for the bar. You ultimately only pay shipping costs. This program is available for lifetime of original ownership!
How does the 60-day money back guarantee work?
If for any reason you are not completely satisfied with the Hensley Arrow, we will return your investment, 100%. It is a no-risk trial where YOU can have your own personal demonstration of “The Ultimate Towing Experience.”
Not only is there a 100% satisfaction guarantee, but we also warranty all the parts of the hitch for the lifetime of your ownership!
How long will it take to get the free video?
We send our videos out every day. Typically, your video goes out the same day you request it. We ship them priority mail and they typically arrive in 2 – 3 days. Videos sent outside the United States take slightly longer. We try to get videos to Canada in about a week.
There has to be a “down-side” to the Hensley Arrow.
Thus far, we have only found one down-side to the Arrow. We caution owners not to become over confident in their towing. With the Hensley Arrow, the tow combination drives so nicely that drivers can over drive the abilities of their tow vehicle. It has nothing at all to do with trailer stability, but one can certainly drive too fast for conditions, for the turn they are about to make, or for assured-clear stopping distance. Certainly we feel our system is far superior to any other tow system on the market and believe it will keep a trailer on the road far beyond any other system, but it cannot cure over-confident poor driving.
How do I unhook when the tow vehicle is on a different plane than the trailer?
Loosen the w/d jacks and continue raising the tongue jack. Watch the point where the hitch bar enters the two vehicle hitch. When you see the hitch bar shift, you know all the weight is off the tow vehicle. Loosen the jacks again and continue unhooking.
If I decide to sell my hitch later on down the road, is the warranty transferible? What about the other perks, such as vehicle transfer adapters, etc?
The lifetime warranty is not transerfable to a new owner. However, a new owner may purchase a warranty from Hensley Mfg. The tow bar is exchangable throughout the lifetime of the original owner, whenever you purchase a new tow vehicle or trailer and the offset changes. An owner without a warranty can purchase a different offset tow bar from Hensley Mfg.
Does system also distribute weight,so that trailer and vehicle ride level?
Yes, the weight distribution is part of the Hensley Arrow or Cub package. The spring bars come in sizes of 550, 800, 1000, and 1400lbs.
Where do I find maintenance recommendations?
From our home page, click on “User Manual Downloads” at the top of the page. There you’ll find the Hensley Arrow Installation & Owner’s Manual as a PDF file. You’ll find there’s little maintenance on the Arrow and Cub.
I am looking to add sway control and weight distributing hitch to my setup that is now conventional tow using factory receiver. Can I use your product with weight distributing system? How? What system do you recommend to compliment your sway control hitch? Thanks …
The Hensley Arrow and Cub come complete with a weight distributing system. We proved 550#, 800#, 1000#, and 1400# spring bars. Once you purchase a Hensley Arrow or Cub, you never need to buy another trailer hitch or add components to your Hensley hitch.
How much does the “Hensley Arrow” weigh ?
The total weight, including the hitch bar, is 190lbs. That’s about 70lbs. more than a friction style hitch. Our built in weight distribution handles the extra weight on your trailer tongue. The hitch is built to last a lifetime, so you’ll see why we insist on such a rugged design.
Do you have any used/reconditioned Hensley Arrows for sale?
We often buy back hitches from customers who are no longer towing. We take them apart and completely recondition them. They also come with a warranty. Call 800-410-6580 to see what we have in stock.
We have recently purchased a 2009 Open Range Journeyer Travel Trailer JT337RLS. The trailer is light in the hitch and is approximately 36′ long. Open range added weight to the hitch to help with the sway problem. We also have a Reese duel cam hitch. The sway problem still is there. Will your Hensley Arrow help with our Trailer? and what guarantees do you have if the hitch does not work? Thanks, Jimmy Dreiss …
Jimmy – The Hensley Arrow Sway Control hitch is 100% guaranteed to eliminate trailer sway in your Open Range. If you’re not completely satisfied that all trailer sway is eliminated, return your Hensley Arrow within 60 days for a full refund of your purchase price. We call it the 60 day test drive. We stand behind our products. Give it a try.
Comments or Questions are Welcome …
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