Hensley Installation
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The Hensley requires nothing other than a standard 2" receiver on the tow vehicle.  The hitch can be installed on the trailer by the customer in 3-4 hours with standard wrenches and a drill.  Hensley includes detailed instructions with the hitch complete with photos of most installation tasks being performed.  The instructions are well thought out and the manual is well done.  Hensley even includes the drill bit and hex key necessary to complete the installation.

As with most instructions, they should be followed exactly as laid out.  My intent is not to go through the complete installation process but to highlight some steps and make some suggestions on things not to do.

I received the hitch late in the day.  As always, I was ready to jump into the installation.  I unboxed the hitch, verified that all of the parts were included and began the installation process.  I placed the hitch bar into my van's 2" hitch receiver and then, with help from my wife, lifted the Hensley hitch box and slipped it onto the hitch bar and locked it in place with the "Over-Center-Latches" (OCL).  I backed the Ford up to the Airstream such that the hitch box was under the Airstream's tongue.  I lowered the trailer tongue onto the 2 5/16" ball that is an integral part of the Hensley hitch box and locked the tongue in place as would normal do when hooking up to a conventional hitch ball.  Then I went stupid.  It was time to eat and I knew I had over an hour of work left to complete the assembly.  "No problem," I thought, just remove the hitch pin from the van and drive out leaving the Hensley hitch box and hitch pin attached to the trailer.  BAD MOVE!!  Although it worked like a champ and we drove off to a wonderful dinner, I paid for it later.

The next day I was ready to pick up where I left off.  I thought I would just slid the hitch bar out of the hitch box.  WRONG!!  With the hitch bar very securely in the Hensley hitch box it wasn't about to come out without a fight.  Try as I could, I was unable to pull the hitch bar out of the Hensley hitch box manually.

Lesson 1: Put some teflon hitch lubricant on the hitch bar before inserting it into the hitch box for the first time.  The fresh paint on the bar and the inside of the hitch box make for a VERY tight fit.

Then I had another idea.  All I had to do was move the van into place, use a stool to support the hitch bar and back the van's receiver hitch around the hitch bar.  NOT!!  Try getting a 2" square bar into a 2" square hole and keep everything lined up perfectly so the hitch bar can be locked into place in the receiver!  I spent half an hour trying before deciding that wasn't the answer.

Finally, with the help of a neighbor, we resorted to using his Toyota scissor jack and wood blocks to pry the hitch bar out of the hitch box.  Now I was able to put the hitch bar into the hitch receiver, lock it in place, put a stool under the hitch box, lower the trailer tongue, unhook from the ball, lift the hitch box back onto the hitch bar, back the hitch box back under the trailer tongue, secure the tongue to the ball in the hitch box and VOILA.  Back to where I had been the night before.

Lesson 2: Don't begin the installation if you are going to need to move the tow vehicle before the installation is nearly complete.

The remainder of the installation went as outlined in the book until I got to the installation of the spring bars.  Once again, my curiosity overruled my common sense.  After inserting the spring bar into the bottom of the hitch box, I decided that I would remove it and apply grease to the top of the bar.  Removing the bars is not, repeat IS NOT, fun.  I ended up backing the Zerk almost all the way out before I got the bar out.  Then I was concerned that since the Zerk is preset at the factory that I would not get it adjusted properly again.  I was able to get it adjusted, but it did cause me concern.

Lesson 3: Don't remove the spring bars just for the heck of it and if you must, keep a good count of how many turns you back out the Zerk (it may be quite a few).

After getting the spring bars installed, the remainder of the installation went according to the book.

I would allow 4 hours for your first Hensley installation.  I would expect that the second installation would be significantly quicker.

Hensley Concept Hensley Installation Hensley  Hookup Hensley Manueuvering Hensley Road Test

page updated 02/21/10


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