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How do I level my tow vehicle with the Hensley Arrow?

This is one of the most common questions we field, when a customer is setting up a Hensley Arrow® for the first time.  Of course, you have probably heard through the years how important having the “correct” amount of weight distribution is to the safety and security of your rig so we will address this question and take out the guesswork. 

It is not a function of the Hensley Arrow to “level” your vehicle.

What do we mean by this? Many sway control hitches on the market utilize 4-point sway control, which means the weight distribution and friction sway control are part of the same system; the further you pull up the bars increases the amount of friction in the hitch. Because of this dynamic, it is very critical to get the tow vehicle more or less at unloaded height to achieve any reasonable amount of stability from this style of hitch.  These types of systems utilize a trunnion bar that is very rigid and can transfer a maximum amount of load from the rear of the tow vehicle.

trunnion bar

 

Because this is such a common practice with 4- point sway control, you probably heard your favorite towing authority on Facebook warning you that if your rear wheel well is any more than ¼” lower than the front, you are unsafe and do not have proper weight distribution.

Of course, this is not accurate because vehicles set up for towing are not always pulling trailers with a weight distribution system, so there is an acceptable amount of sag in the rear of your vehicle. 

How much is too much? There is a very practical way of testing your weight distribution. If you are hooked up to the trailer, driving down the road and the steering in your tow vehicle feels normal with a firm positive reaction from steering wheel inputs, the same as it would without the trailer, this is a good indication you have enough weight distribution.

Why we use a spring bar system with the Hensley Arrow.

Spring bars are a different style of weight distribution, they are made of spring steel so they have some flex to them. These are preferred over rigid trunnion bars, as you can achieve a much softer and more comfortable ride with them, while also transferring enough weight for safety. Because spring bars do not transfer as much load as trunnion style bars, it may be difficult to level your tow vehicle with them, which is perfectly ok.

How should I set the spring bars on my Hensley Arrow?

The Arrow comes with three embossed jack height indicators. The instructions direct you to tension the jack and spring bars until the middle of the three marks is at the level of the upper jack barrel.

Jack height

Once you have put this much tension on the bars it is a good STARTING POINT to determine if you are getting too much bounce in the rear of your tow vehicle. If you are getting too much bounce in your vehicle suspension you should pull the bars up further until this improves.  It is acceptable to tension the spring bars until the jack assembly is maxed out. This also means the spring bars may go beyond parallel to the trailer A frame which is all right.

 

 

What if I max out the jacks and I am still not transferring enough load?

The spring bars on the Arrow rotate inside a bushing assembly in the bottom of the main unit. These bushings take a significant amount of wear and over time, may get out of round (egg shaped) which will diminish the amount of weight you can transfer. If you inspect the spring bar bushings and find these significantly out of round, it may be time to replace the bushings which are available on the website.

The Hensley Arrow comes with two available spring bar sizes 1,000 pound and 1,400 pounds. These require different bushings. You can tell which bushing you need by the diameter. The 1K bushings are 1 3/8” diameter and the 1,400 Lb. Bushings are 1.5” diameter. The Hensley Cub hitch uses a bushing that is also 1 3/8”.

Weight distribution is not an exact science

It can be difficult to set something up based on “feel” but weight distribution is one of those things that really is that simple. If the tow vehicle is too bouncy in the suspension or if you have poor reaction in your steering, pull the bars up further until the ride is where you want it to be.

Of course, if you need any help with setting up your Hensley Arrow, you can reach our customer support line (800) 410-6580.

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