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BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/7/19 7:12 p.m.

As documented on this forum a while back, I recently road tripped to Florida to retrieve my next "Miata with a funny looking badge". For once I went for the nicest car I could find, and ended up with this '04 AP2:

Mostly lived in WA, followed by Florida. P-PO was a retired Boeing engineer, PO is big into vintage dirt bikes and needed to free up some garage space. It is depressingly stock, and will probably stay that way to a certain extent. We'll see.

Once I got home I threw it up on the QuickJack to check the underside in more detail and also change the gearbox oil as the gearchange (especially into 2nd) was a bit crunchy at times. These don't have the same gearbox action as a Miata, but a good one comes pretty close.

Assume the workshop position:

Photos/video of the underside to follow, but if anything it's cleaner underneath than up top. It has one scrape on one of the longitudonal "frame rails" that's got a bit of surface rust, otherwise the underside is almost clean enough to eat off. Well, if you like you your food with a bit of road grime.

And because it would be rude not to if you have the wheels in the garage, well, TE37 all the things:

The offset is a bit hellaberkeleyingflush so I'll have to figure out if I want to fit those rims or not.

So what's the plan? Catch up maintenance first - it needs most fluids changed, an alignment and probably a shifter rebuild. I do want to track it this year, but I suspect I'll have to put some new shocks on, too, as the originals felt a bit worn and had oil mist on them. It also looks like Honda emulated a Miata issue with the travel of the rear suspension, so I'm looking at determining what can be done about that. There's a company that sells customised Öhlins coilovers that might be an option. OTOH I'm not super keen on coilovers as they require a special kind of inspection in WV.

Other longer term mods very likely include a lowered driver seat, a baffled oil pan and very likely some additional oil cooling - based on the MotoIQ articles on their S2000, these run very high oil temps.

The mods I'm planning for now should all be reversible - this was a fairly expensive car and nice S2ks are going up in value, so I want the option to revert the car to stock before a potential sale.

What I like so far, after driving for about 1500 miles - the ergonomics suit me better than the NA/NB/NDs I've owned, I find it easier to heel/toe and I've actually got enough headroom to wear a helmet and can still fit under the roof with a stock seat.

It doesn't feel much faster than a Miata even though it's got close to a 100bhp more, but all those horses live somewhere between 6500 and 7500 rpm, and I don't feel like driving like a complete nutcase all the time.

spacecadet GRM+ Memberand Dork
8/7/19 8:01 p.m.

That is clean! Nice buy! 

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/22/19 5:10 p.m.

In reply to spacecadet :

Thank you!

Nothing's happened with the car since the last post as I was chasing roof leaks on my shop and temporarily patch them. Today I finally got around checking the clutch master cylinder as hadn't been 100% happy with the clutch action since I bought the car. I guess I found one of the reasons why:

Yep, I guess that wants a new one. I'll probably change the clutch line at the same time and replace it with a braided hose while I've got it apart. Oh, and take the clutch delay mechanism out.

I also finally got around to checking the paint code and yes, it's Sebring Silver. So now I can at least see if I can find a good condition OEM lip in the right colour.

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/14/19 8:08 a.m.

And because I didn't have a chance to do much work on it in the last month, I finally got around to sticking together some footage I took over the last couple of months for a project into on the YouTubez:



Not super stoked about the video quality as the camera on my Android phone isn't that great. Note to self, need to free up space on my iPhone.

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/10/19 3:58 p.m.

Had the week off, but seemed to mostly play potted plant - no, not that sort of potted plant - just recover at tad from work-related exhaustion. Towards the end of the week I finally managed to muster enough energy and get the cats of my lap for long enough to attempt changing the clutch master cylinder.

I did arm myself with an OEM shop manual as I usually do for cars that I intend to keep for a while:

It's a bit fiddly, even if you don't have large hands. Mainly because getting your hand in to undo the hard line to the clutch master is a bit tricky:

Anyway, managed to eventually get the master cylinder out without dropping a mounting nut behind the A-pillar panels, put the brand new OEM one in, hooked up everything and did a bit of pre-bleeding with my vacuum bleeder. That done, I figured I'd adjust the clutch pedal as per the above book of wisdom. That turned out to be a mistake.

I don't know where they're measuring the pedal height from, but the spec in the manual would put the pedal way too high. Not to mention that I'm not quite sure how you'd accomplish that without grinding bits off parts of the clutch mount. Ah well, plan B based on the recommendations of some of the suggestions on S2ki then. Basically, adjust the pedal such that it only has minimal free play without actually putting pressure on the clutch.

That would have been fine had I been able to loosen the lock nut on the master cylinder's actuating rod. No amount of trying while turning the air blue got me anywhere. So I decided to leave it for the night and try again this morning. With the same result, so off comes the master cylinder again.

Only that I also had a case of the clumsies and dropped one of the two nuts behind the footwell cover. I had almost waited for that to happen but didn't want to remove the cover because I figured that I'd end up breaking at least one of the mounting pins. Which I did now that I had to remove the plastic cover frown.

Master cylinder comes off again after draining the clutch hydraulics  - at least I'm getting better at that part. Lock nut is somewhat chewed up from previous attempts, but I figured I can just transfer the lock nut from the old master cylinder. Cue more swearing as it appears that the lock nut had been tightened by my old mechanical nemesis, gorilla wivva a toothache. But behold! Something is moving!

Turns out the "something" was the fork that goes over the clutch pedal - which the locknut is supposed to hold in place. The nut is resolutely sticking in place even when not locking anything.

So right now I need to order a few more parts like the interior clips I broke and figure out if I try risking taking both master cylinders apart far enough to transfer the actuator rod (which I don't have time for) or just order another OEM master cylinder. Only this time I'm checking that dang lock nut before fitting the master cylinder.

I also decided to fit a braided clutch line in place of the original rubber line, mostly because the original rubber line is 15 years old and it didn't look like the clutch hydraulics had been serviced a lot. Well, that was another idea that I quickly abandoned after trying to mock up fitted the braided line I bought and started doubting very much that I'd be able to route it anywhere near to where the existing line runs. The fact that the braided line appears to be a little shorter and the kink on one end piece went into the opposite direction from the OEM one didn't exactly inspire more confidence. I guess I'll just throw on another OEM line and write the aftermarket line off as a learning experience.

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/8/19 4:03 p.m.

Finally had some wrenching time. Project cars and jobs with lots of travel don't mix well.

Ended up with another OEM master cylinder. I figured that way I can get the car back on the road just in time for salty season frown(no, it's not going out when there is salt on the road). I'll keep the other one as a spare and will eventually replace the actuating rod. I suspect my attempts at loosening the actuating rod bent it slightly, but enough to jam on the lock nut hard. This time, I tried to loosen it up before putting the master cylinder in, which worked much better. I'm still surprised how hard they jam the nut on.

Anyway, the new master cylinder is in, with a new gasket - top tip, removing the bracket for the throttle cable makes it much easier to get at the master cylinder. Unfortunately brainiac here couldn't remember where I had put the brake fluid, but TBH I wasn't too fond of the stuff I got. Local auto parts place just didn't have anything better. I figured I'd just get the good stuff and wait for Amazon Racing Services to deliver it instead.

Hopefully I'll have a working clutch by the weekend, then it's brake service time.

amg_rx7 SuperDork
12/8/19 4:19 p.m.

I think you know this already judging by your reference to the custom valves Ohlins but Sakebomb has some awesome parts for the S2000 (and Miata, RX7, Tesla...)



BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/8/19 4:22 p.m.

In reply to amg_rx7 :

The custom Öhlins from Sakebomb are on my slightly-after-Christmas list .

mr2s2000elise Dork
12/8/19 5:19 p.m.

Beauty. Love to see another S2k owner here. After 170K on my AP1, I bought my AP2 new in 07. Still loving it after 12 years. 

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/15/19 4:05 p.m.

Well, today I finally got around to finishing the clutch bleed job. What's great about moving is that you can't find a darn thing months or years afterwards frown. In my case the tools are also split between two places - the "car shop" outside and the "bike shop" in the downstairs garage. Oh well, eventually I did assemble all the tools, bled the clutch system, cleaned up the interior panels and ended up with a working car. Yay.

Took it out for a spin to wash off the bird poop on it as I still haven't managed to close all the nooks and crannies the birds get into the garage. Took the long way home, too, even though that one had already been brined in preparation for tomorrow's weather.

All in all a successful day. Next step, go through the brakes but that'll have to wait a bit as the Porsche wants its share of the attention, too. Not to mention I need to change the Porsche gearbox oil first so I can then dump the remainder of the fresh gearbox oil into the S2000's diff.

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/15/19 4:06 p.m.

In reply to mr2s2000elise :

I do like this car. Being just a little bit bigger than a Miata means that I fit it much better, but it's not so big that it becomes unwieldy.

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
12/26/19 3:50 p.m.

No photos today, and the light I use for filming only lasted a few minutes before the battery was dead. Yay frown.

Anyway, I had a go at the front brakes as they always felt a bit off to me. Granted, I'm the guy who put brake pads on his RX8 that had so much initial bite that it was almost impossible to heel & toe on the street without catching tailgating pickups, but even by slightly more relaxed standards, the brakes on my S2000 weren't great.

Looks like whoever put on the fairly crappy (probably parts store) front pads tried to make up for it by smothering one of the sliding pins in so much lube that all the lube collected at the front of the pin. The others, not so much. After a little bit of persuasion I got all the pins out and then couldn't find my brake caliper lube. Did I mention how much I love moving?

Anyway, more proper high temp brake caliper lube is on the way and I'm ordering some Hawk HPS 5.0 pads from TireRack in so hopefully I can get this car to stop the way I like it early next week. Fingers crossed that the weather holds so I can actually test drive it before they chuck more salt on the roads.

Not to mention I've got to get it off the QuickJack as I should also do some work on the 911...

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/5/20 3:11 p.m.

Holy bovine, that took some time even not taking the shipping time for the various items into account.

I did shoot a fair amount of video that I need to edit at some point and turn into a semi-coherent YouTube video, and as a result didn't took a lot of photos. I think it took me about 8h total for this job, so call it 4-5h without video. For a berkeleying brake job.

As mentioned in the previous post, the sliding calipers didn't so much. The plan was to clean and lubricate everything, make sure the pistons were moving freely, stick better pads on it and change the fluid. I'm not a big fan of pushing fluid backwards on ABS systems (even though it should be fine) so I usually hook up my brake bleeder and open the bleed nipple. Especially if I'm planning to bleed the brakes afterwards anyway.

First attempt at opening a bleed nipple looked like this:

Honda 1 - Harbor Freight 0

The amazing part was that the bleed screw survived intact. Both front calipers had pistons that were semi-stuck in their bores despite no evidence of crud buildup. Getting them going again took quite a while and a delicate dance of taking the pads out on one side, carefully pumping out the piston (but not too far) and then equally carefully using the retractor tool to push the piston back in. Rinse and repeat until bored, then do it twice more.

The rears weren't as bad, I suspect the handbrake mechanism had kept the piston moving somewhat better, but everything was still super stiff. Of course the universal tool to wind back the pistons into the rear calipers did fit as well as they always do so before I touch them again I'm betting a Honda specific one.

I tried to make up for all the time I spent getting the calipers to move again using one of these compressor-driven vaccuum brake bleeders. It mainly seemed to turn compressed air into a combination of hissing noise and compressor noise, with not much fluid being extracted. Not sure if this was due to the bleed screws not being in great shape or because of the tool itself.

I ended up going back to old school pedal pumping, still didn't get a lot of fluid pushed through but more. Rears bled OK, fronts, well, not so much. I had ordered some Speed Bleeders for the car anyway so I pulled one of the front bleed screws out - it was nicely corroded at the bottom. I guess that explained why the pistons were a bit stuck, too. FFS, folks, change your brake fluid, it's hygroscopic.

Anyway, old school bleeding with the Speed Bleeders went OK, took it for a spin with the new Hawk HPS 5.0 pads fitted and braking seems to be improved. Unfortunately on the way back I either picked up a stone or something else potentially more important that pinged off the underside of the car something fierce, so I need to check if there was any damage and/or if anything important went missing.

I also noticed that the grille insert on the front bumper was rattling at idle, that's something I need to look at as well. But at least I have a driving S2000 again with some fresh fluids.

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/2/20 2:04 p.m.

I'm planning to have a go at checking the valve clearances next weekend as there is no record of them ever having been checked. As the coils are also known to crack from time to time I decided I'll pull those out today to check them over so I can add them to my RockAuto order for the Jeep if necessary.

Turns out the coils are looking good, no sign of cracking or other interesting deformations like I saw on the RX8. And of course I broke the tabs one three out of the four COP connectors so I had to order some new ones. Fortunately Ballade Sports appears to have them, and it finally gave me an excuse to buy a depinning kit.

To celebrate the occasion I ended up buying it some braided brake lines and K&N oil filters from Summit Racing. Looks like operation "take it to the track first weekend of March" might actually happen, especially if I'm willing to run it on the stock suspension. Might need some better tires though, the ones on the car are six years old.

trumant GRM+ Memberand New Reader
2/2/20 2:25 p.m.

Definitely sounds like it's tire time. Hope you are able to get it ready for March. 

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/2/20 5:15 p.m.

In reply to trumant :

Agreed - the rear tires are pretty worn anyway. I think I should be able to get it ready for March as I have two weeks of remote work (ie, working from home) scheduled this month, so I can actually sneak out into the shop after work. Much easier to do that when you're not a thousand miles from home.

trumant GRM+ Memberand New Reader
2/2/20 5:18 p.m.

I can appreciate that. I'm thinking of taking tomorrow off just to work on mine and I work from home every other week.


Those work from home days always provide extra time for the garage even if it's just cleaning up or organizing.

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/9/20 9:41 a.m.

So I'm cross-posting this build thread on Another Forum(TM) and was informed there that I should return the K&N oil filters as quickly as possible as due to the exotic engine, none but the OEM Honda filters would be able to cope with the engine's oil flow and pressure requirements. I had to double check I didn't accidentally cross post this to a certain Miata forum.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure that the K&N filter should be able to cope with a couple of days at the track. I guess I'll find out. If anything, IME K&N is likely to flow a bit better in exchange for a little less filtration. At least that's how their air filters seem to work.

Fortunately I didn't mention that I am planning to run SuperTech fully synth oil in there for the first track day. The apoplexy that may have caused might have been funny to watch, though.

The interesting thing is that I basically wasn't able to find data backing up the "only use OEM oil filters" opinion, other than forum wisdom and one person reporting they experienced a cracked filter housing.

Slippery GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
2/9/20 10:35 a.m.

I am in the "use factory filters only" camp ... My shelf:

Slippery GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
2/9/20 10:38 a.m.

I will also only use Honda manual transmission fluid. For the engine I usually use Amsoil or Redline. Differential is Lubricators Engineers, LE-1605. 

Change the manual transmission fluid often, like every two oil changes. It makes a world of difference and its only 2 qts. 

rico750sxi_2 Reader
2/9/20 11:24 a.m.
mr2s2000elise said:

Beauty. Love to see another S2k owner here. After 170K on my AP1, I bought my AP2 new in 07. Still loving it after 12 years

Now you can't tell us this info without posting some pics of said cars. 

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/9/20 11:28 a.m.

In reply to Slippery :

Transmission already has Redline MTL in it, I changed the fluid a few months back. Made a big difference as I expected, although 2nd gear still feels a bit scratchy. Got some Mobil 1 75W140 hanging about for the diff, which is what LHT Performance recommends. I'll follow your suggestion and am probably going to replace it aftera  couple of track days. As you mention these don't take a lot of oil in the first place.

I'll likely go to better engine oil sooner or later - the main reason to go with the cheaper oil is that I'll very likely swap to a baffled oil pan really soon, so I wasn't going to dump expensive oil into the car only to recycle it a trackday or two later when I swap out the sump. 

Slippery GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
2/9/20 11:45 a.m.

Why do you think it needs a baffled oil pan? I am not trying to dissuade you, but I am laugh.

I have about 10 track days on mine, half of them supercharged and two trips to the dragon. Never felt there was an oil starvation problem.

I've also driven through OK and Kansas for hours at 6k rpms with zero problems. 

I would leave that alone and concentrate elsewhere. 

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/9/20 12:08 p.m.

In reply to Slippery :

Word on the same forum that recommends only OEM filters suggests a baffled pan is somewhere between a good insurance policy and a necessity once you get to higher side loads (ie, low TW tires to R-Comps). Yeah, I'm nothing but inconsistent as to where I take advice from.

I think part of this depends if I slowly turn this car into a more Time Trials focused car or not. 

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/9/20 12:12 p.m.

And speaking of potentially unnecessary changes, I need to make up my mind today if I spring for a lower seat or not...

As usual I just a tad too tall and the steering wheel would be in a more comfortable position if I sat a bit lower.

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