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Old 01-27-2015, 07:06 PM   #1
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Escape 21 coming to Livermore, CA

We’ve been enjoying the Forum for some time as ‘stealth’ members. Guess it’s time to come out of the closet. We ordered a 21’ scheduled for July 24, 2015 completion. We were at ETI the day Toto was picked up. Initially, we decided on the 19’ for the queen bed; but after looking at that, the 21, and the 5.0 TA, decided we were ok with the smaller, more easily accessed, bed on the 21’; we really liked the extra storage space and roomier dinette, and we had trouble with the stairs on the TA.

Now we need a tow vehicle, as our Prius doesn’t seem quite up to the task! Neither of us has been attracted to the idea of a truck. It would have the advantage of long wheelbase, especially in a crew-cab version that could carry a few extra people, but we are unhappy with parking its length and the open bed storage. We’ve decided on a Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited diesel with most of the factory options, including tow package and the advanced technology safety package (including front collision warning with stop) and the off-road package-I (protection from road-debris, even if we never go off-road), but not the air suspension (primarily for reliability concerns).

We have already purchased a Hensley Cub weight-distribution hitch, following the advice from J.D. Gallant at RV.org that it eliminates sway as an issue; we understand from Reace that this will be the first one he has installed. This hitch may be overkill, as we haven’t found complaints about sway on this forum, but we like the ‘belt and suspenders’ approach to safety. We’ll also look into one of the driving schools that have been recommended, especially it that is possible before we go back across the border to accept delivery.

We’ll post our build list and evolving changes on the Shopping Escape Forum.

Art and Kathy
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Old 01-27-2015, 07:12 PM   #2
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..., as our Prius doesn’t seem quite up to the task! ...
Art and Kathy
Really
Prius tow capacity.jpg
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Old 01-27-2015, 07:29 PM   #3
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Hello Art and Kathy. Congrats on your decision on the 21! The Grand Cherokee sounds like a good match for it. Where I live you get tarred, feathered and run out of town if you don't own at least one full sized pick-up. Have fun making your build decisions. Jeff
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Old 01-27-2015, 07:33 PM   #4
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Escape 21 in the valley

Art and Kathy,
We spent 73 to 83 in Pleasanton and had a number of RV's with so many places to go year around. We are now in Tucson with our 21 and we seem to go West a lot. We have also had a few tow vehicles, some underpowered, some too long and some uncomfortable. We now use a Grand Cherokee 2 wheel drive as we no longer go where we might find snow. I think the Jeep is a great choice and if we had to replace ours (it only has 75,000 miles, half towing) I would buy another. The diesel wasn't available when we bought the 2011 but the Hemi really tows well with good mpg.
You cannot go wrong with the Escape and the Jeep is short enough to go anywhere with the trailer. For a first short trip you can't beat Chabot? camp ground above Castro Valley or the Del Val Lake camp ground in your back yard. Enjoy
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Old 01-27-2015, 07:51 PM   #5
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The operating principle of the Hensley hitches (there are three models now) is sound - although not quite the miracle they claim - but it does have downsides. For one, they're heavy (about 150 pounds for even the Cub, I hear), but also their hinge point is way back from the tug's bumper, so the tug is carrying the tongue weight way back there and so weight distribution is a problem... so you need the weight distributing (WD) hitch feature even if the same tug and trailer wouldn't need WD with a normal hitch.

Personally I don't think I would resort to any Hensley for an Escape, especially at a couple thousand dollars, but at least the rig should be stable.
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Old 01-27-2015, 07:53 PM   #6
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Congrats and welcome to the forum! Seems like a new member or two joins every day and announces their purchase. ETI is gonna need more room!
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Old 01-27-2015, 08:21 PM   #7
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Thanks to DFAndrews for the Prius towing a red wagon.

That's getting close to our first thoughts on what RV we should get: my dad built his own tent trailers using a WWII surplus officers tent, and Costco sells a camper/utility trailer that is equivalent to his: no kitchen, no bathroom, ...

It was a slippery slope when we escalated from there. Our love for camping, without wanting to bring our house along, saved us from going all the way to a 35' fifth wheel or large motorhome. The 21' will be luxurious compared with my childhood camping with my parents, or our tent camping years ago. This should be a fun second childhood.
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Old 01-27-2015, 08:45 PM   #8
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Hello and congratulations on your 21- it makes camping way comfortable. Agree with Brian though on the WDH and think you may regret not having the Andersen which is the opposite in terms of weight and generally being user-friendly. These trailers don't suffer from the sway & buffeting like larger/heavier ones do. Can you return the unused Hensley?
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Old 01-27-2015, 09:40 PM   #9
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I would have to agree with the comments above about the Hensley. Even the cub model is quite expensive, and sway isn't generally an issue with an Escape - although weight distribution might be, depending on your tow.
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Old 01-28-2015, 01:41 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
The operating principle of the Hensley hitches (there are three models now) is sound - although not quite the miracle they claim - but it does have downsides. For one, they're heavy (about 150 pounds for even the Cub, I hear), but also their hinge point is way back from the tug's bumper, so the tug is carrying the tongue weight way back there and so weight distribution is a problem... so you need the weight distributing (WD) hitch feature even if the same tug and trailer wouldn't need WD with a normal hitch.

Personally I don't think I would resort to any Hensley for an Escape, especially at a couple thousand dollars, but at least the rig should be stable.
I remember the Hensley Cub Hitch weight being closer to 75 than 150 lbs; and hoisting the boxes in my garage seems compatible with about 75 lbs., but I couldn't find an exact number on their website. Still a substantial weight, and it extends the length of the hitch by 12". The effective hinge point is well ahead of the tugs bumper, giving stability near that of a fifth wheel.
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Old 01-28-2015, 03:12 AM   #11
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Welcome to another 21 owner. Would love to your thoughts on the Hensley after a few miles.....I went with Andersen.
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Old 01-28-2015, 11:34 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Art M. View Post
I remember the Hensley Cub Hitch weight being closer to 75 than 150 lbs; and hoisting the boxes in my garage seems compatible with about 75 lbs., but I couldn't find an exact number on their website.
Hensley is big on superlatives, but not so much on providing objective information - I didn't find a weight spec either, but maybe it's there on their website and I just missed it. The website is one reason I would not want to deal with Hensley - they seem more like a cult than a business... all the information is in blog posts instead of straightforward product descriptions.

I pulled the 150 pound value from a post specifically about the Cub in another forum, and it seemed reasonable to me because even a common WD hitch is near that, and the Hensley linkage head is massive. That value may be wrong, though.

The weight which is relevant is all of the components: the stinger assembly that stays on the tug, the head with the linkage bars, the hardware to attach the head to the trailer, the weight-distribution spring bars, the jacks which connect the spring bars to the trailer frame, and the hardware to mount the jacks.

If anyone knows what a Hensley Arrow weighs, we can subtract 20 pounds from that for the lighter head (due to a thinner base plate) and another 30 pounds or so due to lighter WD spring bars. I don't think there's much chance an Arrow weighs only 125 pounds complete, but I've never lifted one.

Referring to the ProPride, which reportedly has a lighter head than a Hensley Arrow, but an adjustable stinger which might weight more, from ClubTouareg:
Quote:
What makes me hesitate is that this thing is heavy (200lb).
and right after that:
Quote:
... the HENSLEY ARROW is about 200#...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Art M. View Post
The effective hinge point is well ahead of the tugs bumper, giving stability near that of a fifth wheel.
Sorry, I probably wasn't clear...
The hinge point to which I was referring is where the pitch motion (nose up/down) is accommodated, which determines effectively where the weight is carried. That's way back where the ball that goes in the trailer's coupler socket is located, a foot back from where it would be with a plain ball mount. This affects the need for a WD system.

The effective pivot point for yaw motion (turning left/right... or swaying) changes with steering angle, but it is indeed far forward of the coupler socket, which is the entire point of the Hensley design (and similar four-bar linkage hitches). This provides the stability improvement.
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Old 01-28-2015, 01:17 PM   #13
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The Hensley hitches seem massive! Given the light weight and proven good handling characteristics of all of the Escape trailers, I see no reason or benefit in using this type of hitch on any suitably sized tow vehicle-Escape trailer combination.

The Jeep GC purchased by the OP will likely be suitable for towing the proposed Escape 21' with no special hitch, or at the most a conventional WDH. The OP may want to try to return their Hensley hitch for a refund and put that money into more options on their 21' or to fund a holiday trip.
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Old 01-28-2015, 04:29 PM   #14
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The Hensley hitches seem massive! Given the light weight and proven good handling characteristics of all of the Escape trailers, I see no reason or benefit in using this type of hitch on any suitably sized tow vehicle-Escape trailer combination.
They are massive, they are complex, they are a specialty item, and as a result of all of these they are expensive. Since they do really provide an advantage, they are worthwhile to some users in some situations; the forward projection of the instantaneous effective yaw pivot point does improve stability. I agree that normal tug-Escape combinations are not an obvious application, but I can understand people making that choice (although it wouldn't be mine).

I appreciate Art and Kathy sharing their plans, and I look forward to hearing about real-world results. The ideal for everyone else, of course, would be to tow with the Hensley, with a more conventional WD, and with a plain hitch... and compare the results. I know I'm not going to all that work and expense...
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Old 01-28-2015, 05:14 PM   #15
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Lake Chabot is not an ideal place to camp!

Congrats! Have a great time on the maiden voyage!

Native CA here! The east bay was our "stomping" grounds!
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Old 01-28-2015, 11:24 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
Hensley is big on superlatives, but not so much on providing objective information - I didn't find a weight spec either, but maybe it's there on their website and I just missed it. The website is one reason I would not want to deal with Hensley - they seem more like a cult than a business... all the information is in blog posts instead of straightforward product descriptions.

I pulled the 150 pound value from a post specifically about the Cub in another forum, and it seemed reasonable to me because even a common WD hitch is near that, and the Hensley linkage head is massive. That value may be wrong, though.

The weight which is relevant is all of the components: the stinger assembly that stays on the tug, the head with the linkage bars, the hardware to attach the head to the trailer, the weight-distribution spring bars, the jacks which connect the spring bars to the trailer frame, and the hardware to mount the jacks.

If anyone knows what a Hensley Arrow weighs, we can subtract 20 pounds from that for the lighter head (due to a thinner base plate) and another 30 pounds or so due to lighter WD spring bars. I don't think there's much chance an Arrow weighs only 125 pounds complete, but I've never lifted one.

Referring to the ProPride, which reportedly has a lighter head than a Hensley Arrow, but an adjustable stinger which might weight more, from ClubTouareg:

and right after that:




Sorry, I probably wasn't clear...
The hinge point to which I was referring is where the pitch motion (nose up/down) is accommodated, which determines effectively where the weight is carried. That's way back where the ball that goes in the trailer's coupler socket is located, a foot back from where it would be with a plain ball mount. This affects the need for a WD system.

The effective pivot point for yaw motion (turning left/right... or swaying) changes with steering angle, but it is indeed far forward of the coupler socket, which is the entire point of the Hensley design (and similar four-bar linkage hitches). This provides the stability improvement.
You got my curiosity up on the weight question, so I got my digital bathroom scale and weighed each crate:
The hitch itself 87.3 lbs [this is what I was thinking of when I said 75 lbs. I was low.]
Bars and clamps 52.3 lbs. [This is mostly to immobilize the ball horizontally but allow
vertical motions, as you mentioned.]
Weight Dist bars 51.5 lbs.
Total 191.1 lbs.

The total is high because of packing material, extra parts to allow clamping to box-member frames or bolting to open frames (I don't remember which ETI uses?), and hopefully a spare set of cotter pins and other easily lost parts. So it looks like your initial estimate of 150 lbs is roughly correct, and probably low.

I don't know what a standard hitch weighs, I'll guess 30 lbs, then the difference with a Hensley Hitch is 87-30 = 57 lbs, and then we add the immobilizing bars of about 50 lbs, so the Hensley weighs about 100 - 120 lbs or so more than standard hitches. Here I'm guessing that the weight distribution bars weigh about the same for any hitch?

I think that we can live with an extra 100 lbs on the tongue, I'll just have to load the trailer to keep the tongue weight in the right range, as well as watch the rear axle weight closely to keep within the limit.

We plan to get a Sherline Tongue Weight scale, like Reace showed us, probably the 1000 lb. range, since the Class IV hitch on the Grand Cherokee is rated for 600 lbs weight, which is also the maximum for stability (15% of about 4,000 lbs loaded for camping). However, if someone can explain how easy and safe it is to measure the weight of one side of a 21' Escape at a time using some jack and the 2000 lb version of the Sherline... I don't think that we need really need high precision on the tongue weight, just need to stay above 10% GVW on the tongue.

We may never know whether we gained extra safety from eliminating sway with the Hensley. Perhaps we'll convoy with a similar trailer someday, and be able to observe a difference. Last summer, we did observe significant sway on a Scamp (13 or 16'?) that we were following for about an hour.
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Old 01-28-2015, 11:36 PM   #17
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That's a heavy hitch. Most folks I know wouldn't want an extra 100 pounds they didn't really need on the 21's tongue. The huge storage area under the front bed is great to have, but one has to be aware of not overloading that area due to its proximity to the hitch.

Your example of the Scamp begs the question: were they using a WDH? With our 17B w/Pro Series and now the 21 w/Andersen and over 8,000 miles traveled since 9/13 we've never experienced any sway.
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Old 01-28-2015, 11:38 PM   #18
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I got my Sherline from etrailer. It came with a 2,000 lb. gauge which is harder to read ( my tongue weight is only about 320# ). Also the gauge is most accurate in the middle of the range.
I've replaced the 2000# with 1000# gauge.
Last time I was at ETI they had the Sherline scale at what I consider to be a very reasonable price ( a deal ).

I have Pro Series WDH and it weighs enough. I wouldn't tolerate the weight of the Hensley for long, if at all.
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Old 01-29-2015, 01:05 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Art M. View Post
You got my curiosity up on the weight question, so I got my digital bathroom scale and weighed each crate:
The hitch itself 87.3 lbs [this is what I was thinking of when I said 75 lbs. I was low.]
Bars and clamps 52.3 lbs. [This is mostly to immobilize the ball horizontally but allow
vertical motions, as you mentioned.]
Weight Dist bars 51.5 lbs.
Total 191.1 lbs.

The total is high because of packing material, extra parts to allow clamping to box-member frames or bolting to open frames (I don't remember which ETI uses?), and hopefully a spare set of cotter pins and other easily lost parts. So it looks like your initial estimate of 150 lbs is roughly correct, and probably low.
Thanks for the numbers. I found a detailed ad from someone selling an Arrow, who had similar data (a higher total, but it wasn't the Cub version).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Art M. View Post
Here I'm guessing that the weight distribution bars weigh about the same for any hitch?
Yes, all bending-bar WD systems (which means everything except the Andersen) are pretty similar, so bars of the same capacity will weigh about the same. Lower-capacity bars are lighter - one of the reasons for not getting higher bar capacity than required, which for most Escapes and most WD products simply means buying the lightest available.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Art M. View Post
However, if someone can explain how easy and safe it is to measure the weight of one side of a 21' Escape at a time using some jack and the 2000 lb version of the Sherline...
Most of us use trucks scales. Some of those scales - typically the government-run ones at the side of the highway provided for checking commercial vehicles - are flush with the ground and it is possible to drive over them one side at a time. That's how I found the left/right difference with my current (non-Escape) trailer, and confirmed that making that more even fixes a side-to-side rolling (not swaying) behaviour.
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Old 01-29-2015, 08:23 AM   #20
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Art,
Did you even consider the Andersen Hitch, it weighs 50% less than yours and should provide the same benefits of no sway and w/d. Plus it's a lot less expensive. Andersen Manufacturing Inc.
I've used traditional w/d set ups and I'm on my second Andersen set up, sold the first with my first Escape.
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