There comes a time in every vehicle's life when change is necessary. While our Jeep Wrangler-turned-AEV Brute had already experienced quite a bit of change, we were itching for more as we continually strive to achieve the best possible trail set up and highway ride combination. The ride wasn't bad by any means. But, still, we knew it could be much better. Seeking something along the lines of a custom trophy truck-style long-travel suspension that could attack any impossible obstacle we came across and still scoot us about town in comfort, we discovered GenRight Off-Road and its Legend Extreme suspension system.
One of the most notable attributes of the Legend Extreme system is that it lends the ability to reposition the front and rear axles to stretch the Wrangler's wheelbase. Most will find they can move the front axle forward about 2 to 3 inches and the rear axle back up to 5 inches, to achieve more than 100 inches of wheelbase. This is especially beneficial for those running 37-inch-and-larger tires. With the AEV Brute kit we had already added 24 inches to create a 117.4-inch wheelbase. With the GenRight Legend Extreme kit we'd add more by moving the front axle forward 5 inches for better tire to fender clearance. All told we'll net a 122.4-inch wheelbase.
GenRight's Legend Extreme system isn’t your typical driveway installation job. It's a completely new coilover suspension system that requires removal of most factory suspension brackets and mounts. You'll need a lift, welding equipment, plasma or cut-off torch, metal bending and fabrication skills, a whole mess of tools, and a healthy knowledge about suspension geometry and set up. For the most part the kit is somewhat of a custom system with most of the more difficult steps already accomplished.
Installation of the coilover shock system requires removal of the stock suspension brackets on the frame. We already had coilover mounts in place at the front and rear of the Brute but they were tucked mostly beneath the fenders and incorporated the factory spring buckets up front, which would impede moving the axle forward. With the GenRight hoops we’d also open up the fenderwells a bit more to fit 14-inch-travel King coilover shocks.
Step By Step
How did we make the Brute even better? Using GenRight’s Legend Extreme kit, which includes a variety of suspension and steering components, all designed to help stretch the wheelbase and create a comfortable and capable 'crawler.
The suspension already in place on the Brute wasn't lacking. We'd used the Rubicon Express long-arm system for nearly 8 years and it was still ready for more, but the custom nature of the Brute lent itself toward a more custom suspension. We also have a lot more wheelbase to play with than we did when the Brute was a standard body Wrangler, so longer control arms would be an easy fit.
The front suspension was equipped with the Rubicon Express radius arm long-arm and a host of other modifications, including a relocated track bar and a Dynatrac high-steer system. Though all of the components had served the Brute well, in order to install the Legend Extreme system and move the front axle forward all of it would be removed.
Genright's Legend Extreme four-link kit uses heavy-duty 1/4- and 3/16-inch-thick laser-cut and CNC-bent control arm mounts. The control arms are made from 2-inch x 1/4-inch-wall DOM tube. GenRight offers rod ends from various manufacturers. We opted to use QA1 Rock Ends from QA1 Motorsports. The four-link rear kit also eliminates the need for a rear track bar.
The GenRight three-link kit features brackets and control arms manufactured in the same manner as the rear four-link kit. Use of a single upper control arm in the three-link kit greatly solves suspension clearance issues with the engine and trans oil pans, while permitting more suspension up travel without raising the ride height. The three-link kit also includes a track bar.
The front shock hoops are constructed from .120-inch-wall tubing and include an engine crossbar for extra support. GenRight shock hoops can also aid in the axle to be moved forward up to 2 inches.
GenRight's rear outboard shock mounts are laser-cut and CNC-bent from 1/4-inch-thick steel. A crossmember is included to provide additional support.
GenRight's three-link front kit uses heavy-duty, laser-cut and CNC bent brackets and mounts. The control arms are made from 2-inch x 1/4-inch-wall DOM tube. Using a single upper control arm allows for more suspension up travel while maintaining a lower overall ride height. It also greatly simplifies the task of installation since you'll only have to worry about clearing the engine and transmission on one side. The four-link rear kit uses heavy-duty 1/4- and 3/16-inch-thick laser-cut and CNC-bent control arm mounts that are cut at an angle to keep the arm joints in a neutral position so maximum rotation can be achieved at full articulation. The tri-angulated design of the four-link system allows the rear track bar to be eliminated.
Both the three-link front and four-link rear kits can be used with coilover shocks (using the GenRight shock hoop) or your existing coil springs in the stock location. Also, the mounts in the three- and four-link kits are universal and can be cut or trimmed to be mounted in any position on any Jeep TJ, YJ, CJ, Early Ford Bronco or Toyota vehicle. The front and rear kits also include new Grade 8 hardware and detailed instructions.
Adding to the system is GenRight's front coilover shock hoop and outboard rear shock mounts. The outboard rear shock mounts are laser-cut and CNC-bent from 1/4-inch-thick steel. Large gussets are positioned on the forward side to the frame and the top and rear of the shock mounts are supported by a crossmember. The mounts also feature a wide opening so longer shocks won't bind. The front shock hoop offers a universal fit to suit many vehicle applications. The hoops are constructed from 0.120-inch-wall tubing and include an engine crossbar for extra support. The hoops position the shock mounts above the inner-fender well just below the hood line to fit up to 16-inch travel shocks. GenRight shock hoops also permit the axle to be moved forward up to 2 inches.
Addressing steering in the Extreme Legend kit is a variety of GenRight components, including front track bar mounts, drag link mounts, and the CrMo Hi-Steering kit. One of the unique aspects of the GenRight steering system and Legend Extreme kit is that they allow the front axle to be moved forward up to 5 inches with the steering box remaining in the stock location. This is achieved largely through use of GenRight's Twisted Pitman, which corrects the typical angle issues of a high-steer system. The Twisted pitman is double-sheared for strength and secures to the drag link using a 5/8-inch Grade 8 bolt. The twisted nature of the GenRight pitman arm allows the Heim on the drag link its full range of motion without binding.
Step By Step
Installing the GenRight Legend Extreme system called for a fresh set of coilover shocks that were matched to the suspension. We elected to use a set of 14-inch-travel, 2-inch-diameter King coilover shocks. The King units feature a 7075 hard-anodized aluminum piston, a high carbon, induction-hardened steel shaft, heat-treated stainless steel valving, and Teflon-lined, stainless spherical bearings.
We've been impressed with the performance and durability of King shocks for a long time. Further imbedding this impression was the fact that King also manufacturers its own coil springs. The springs are offered in 2.5-, 3-, and 3.75-inch inside diameters, 4- to 24-inch lengths, and in weight ranges from 90 to 800 pounds.
King air bump stops will help control the suspension's compression and rebound cycles. King bump stops are fully rebuildable and revalvable, allowing them to be tailor-fit to the suspension. The bump stops use triple stage seals (the main seal is rated for 3,000 psi) to help ensure no leaks will occur, even under the most extreme conditions.
With the new suspension control arms going in place we opted to redo the brake lines to create a cleaner looking set up. Classic Tube provided the necessary hard line sections and its Stop-Flex hoses to complete the system. The brake lines will be covered in Part II of the "Building a Brawnier Brute" series.
The upper rear control arm brackets were welded to a bridge on top of the rear axle center section, triangulating the four-link suspension arrangement. The 2-inch x 1/4-inch-wall DOM arms use QA1 Rock Ends, which offer 44 degrees of misalignment.
The GenRight four-link frame brackets are designed to beef up the factory frame with included "C" sections that slide over the frame and are welded in place. This also helps better distribute the load. The GenRight brackets secure only to the frame, not the transmission/transfer case skid plate, leaving easy access for servicing these components. Note the large gusset to the frame behind the mounting bracket. This kit is heavy-duty.
Follow along as we tackle the first stage of the installation of the GenRight Legend Extreme system. We'll follow up next month with the completion of the install and review of the kit's performance, in addition to installing a selection of GenRight armor to continue our quest of building a brawnier Brute.
Step By Step
Installation of the GenRight outboard rear shock mounts required trimming some of the wheel well sheet metal, which we'll replace once the installation is complete. The rear shock mounts are well gusseted to the frame and offer a wide mounting area so longer shocks won't bind on the mount's lower opening.
A tube crossmember provides additional strength to the rear shock mounts and also the frame.
Another look at the outboard rear shock mounts. All of the brackets are laser-cut and CNC-bent from 1/4-inch-thick steel. These mounts are as sturdy as they are functional.
GenRight's rear sway bar kit was also installed. The brackets and tube will support a 1 1/4-inch-diameter splined bar and 16-inch steel arms.
With the GenRight control arm mounts securing to the frame we opted to achieve a bit more ground clearance under the transfer case by using Teraflex's Belly Up flat skid plate.
The Teraflex Belly Up skid plate is easily installed in the factory skid plate location. The Belly Up skid plate increases ground clearance up to 2 inches compared to the stock skid plate.
The front passenger-side control arm frame mount was positioned just in front of the Teraflex skid plate. Since the GenRight front kit is a three-link system there is only a single link arm on this side of the vehicle. With the raised track bar bracket on this side of the axle, as well as exhaust routing, there is more flexibility in positioning the upper link on the driver-side.
The other lower control arm and single upper arm secure to GenRight's frame brackets just in front of the Teraflex skid plate. The upper link end is rotated so that it snugly fits between the driveshaft and frame. Offering 44 degrees of misalignment, this is well within the rotational range of the QA1 Rock End.
The single upper link arm was secured to GenRight brackets that were welded in place atop a bridge on the front axle. Both sides of the mounting bracket were gusseted for extra strength. New Grade 8 hardware is included with the kit.
With all factory parts removed the GenRight track bar frame brackets were welded in place. The GenRight track bar is perfectly matched to the TJ frame and offers ideal suspension and steering geometry when paired with GenRight's Twisted Pitman. The 1-3/8-inch-diameter x 0.188-inch-wall DOM tube track bar uses a QA1 Rock End. Note that the steering box remains in the factory location, even with axle moved forward 5 inches.
The track bar axle bracket is well gusseted for extra strength and elevates the track bar to match the angle of the drag link. The axle end of the track bar uses a QA1 XM rod end. The QA1 Rock End on the lower control arm is also in view, as is the lower shock mount on the axle C.
A tube crossmember adds support to the track bar frame mount and also to the frame itself. Laser-cut from 1/4-inch-thick steel, the track bar axle bracket is very heavy-duty.
Moving the axle forward 5 inches while keeping the steering box in the factory location isn't easy, but GenRight achieved this goal using its Twisted Pitman. The Twisted Pitman corrects the typical angle issues of a high-steer system by allowing a Heim-equipped drag link its full range of motion without binding. The Twisted Pitman is made from 1/4-inch-thick steel plate and the tapered spline section from a stock pitman arm is TIG-welded into the arm. The double-sheared mount for the drag link adds to the Twisted Pitman's strength.
The double-sheared GenRight high-steer drag link mount is made from 1/4-inch-thick steel plate and secures the drag link using a 5/8-inch Grade 8 bolt. The mount is welded to the top of the steering arm. The tie rod is also shown installed. The tie rod and drag link use QA1 XM Heim-style rod ends.
The Twisted Pitman bolts to the sector shaft on the steering box like a normal pitman arm does. The drag link secures to the Twisted Pitman using a 5/8-inch Grade 8 bolt.
The tie rod and drag link use 1 3/8-inch x 0.188-inch-wall tube (chromoly for the tie rod and DOM for the drag link). Check out the beefy 5/8-inch bolts; did we mention that this system is heavy-duty?
The installation of the GenRight steering and suspension systems is nearly complete but not before the suspension and steering were fully cycled a number of times to check for binding or other issues.
The front shock hoops are made from 0.120-inch-wall tubing and include an engine crossbar for extra support. They offer a universal fit to suit many vehicle applications. When used on the Jeep TJ and others the hoops aid in moving the front axle forward.
Lakeville, MN 55044