It's all change at #topalwaysdown HQ. So much so at least that #topalwaysdown has a new secret lair. And in the meantime, there's also been some additions to the S2000.
We'll start with the wheels. It's no secret that I'm a little bit obsessive over wheels. It's also no secret that I've grown to love the early S2000 16"s. So I bought my third set over Christmas. I’d already bought a set last year that were in good condition, but when I found a set in Bristol that were recently painted and immaculate, I had to have them. The decision was made easier by the fact that the same seller was selling the JDM bumper that I’ve already fitted to the car.
I finally got my tyres swapped onto them a couple of weeks ago and they’re now fitted to the car and making a much bigger difference than I expected. Amazing what some glossy paint does! Now all that’s left to do is to sell set #2 to pay for some new rubber on the rear. I’ve done well to eke out a year (or about 13k miles) from the RE002s and enjoyed them on the car, so another pair will soon be on their way to me. The fronts meanwhile are barely worn in. Very impressed for such a soft tyre.
Next up, I have a new roof. It’s always been on the cards as when I bought the car it came with rips in vinyl to the rear of the side windows. Given that it was mainly folded down and that the plastic rear window was relatively new, I had put it off until now. My attempt to repair it was more to prevent it getting any worse, but it didn't look too great. Roofs can be anything up to £1000 including the fitting, so I followed the crowd that had been taking their S2000s down to a small trimmers in Swansea with pleasing results. Jack Smith’s Trimmers have earned a great reputation on many forums, initially catering mainly for MX-5s, though the recent influx of tired S2000 roofs has the booking schedule full well into June. This is clearly a sign of a good product, at very good value.
I had been told exactly what to expect when I reached ‘the rear of’ St Helen’s Avenue, but it still surprised me. I found a guy very much like Uncle Bryn from Gavin & Stacey sat in a small lock up shed on a sewing machine, surrounded by offcuts of cloth covering every inch of the floor. Nevertheless, he got on with the job, which involved removal of a surprising amount of interior plastics. It didn’t take him too long before the roof was nothing but a frame. I left him to carry on at this point and took a wander into Swansea city centre for some lunch before a walk along the beach in the sun.
Four hours after my arrival, the cracked vinyl and scratched plastic was gone and in its place was a beautifully well made cloth roof with a glass windscreen, ready for me to hand over just £260 and make my way back. I had been advised to leave the roof up while it stretched, but come on, I wasn’t going to listen to that, was I? And as such, I found my downfall when I attempted to raise the top, which resulted in a 20 minute struggle. I've given it a week now without using the car, so will see if it's stretched a bit tomorrow.
A small repair was all that stopped the problem worsening
Roof was soon stripped back to a frame and I left Uncle Bryn to it
Much blacker, much tidier, no rips!
It was never as tidy on the other side and the vinyl had faded very grey
Perhaps the nicest part of Swansea was the view out towards Somerset...
And the bonus of glass in the back, making the rear window actually usable!
Finally, if you're wondering why I've not used the car all week, that's because it's role has now changed. It's no longer a daily doing 20 miles each way on the commute and has become a weekend plaything. I’ve rented a very small house within walking distance from Taunton town centre, so while I complete the 3 mile round trip on foot or bike, the S2000 now sits at home, locked up behind two big wooden gates under a car port. Not only is it more secure, it also give me somewhere to work on and clean the car under cover and sheltered from the wind. The extra good news is that the 120k mileage isn’t likely to increase at such a huge rate any more, and also that fuel cost and tyre wear are now going to drop substantially. I’ll no longer be spending 75% of my time in the car crawling through rush hour traffic and will actually get the chance to use it purely for enjoyment. Here’s to a summer of #topalwaysdown driving, just for the sheer hell of it!
I didn't want a garden anyway, but this little gated driveway was a blessing
And it's perfect as somewhere to give the car a good clean up
It's all been a bit quiet on the S2000 front with the need to get the 106 on the road and running and eventually sold. However, it's time for a long overdue update.
Since I bought the car it's always been in my mind some of the changes I wanted to make. One in particular was to sort out my front bumper. The faded pink paint was letting the rest of the car down and I was never a fan of the headlight washers, looking like warts on the car's face. The plan was always to get it smoothed off, removing the number plate plinth in the process, and repainted.
And then come December I found something I couldn't resist. A freshly painted JDM spec bumper, without the washer jets, with an easily removable square plinth. What's more, it was fairly local up in Bristol. Ideal! The downside? It had a big scuff at the bottom from scraping a speed bump. No problem, I thought... I have a splitter that will cover that up!
Having no chance of getting such an item in the S2000, it was a dark evening drive up in the X Trail to pick it up, along with a mint set of wheels (my third set, more on that later!) for a reasonable £350.
Naturally, these items sat in the newly cleared out garage for a few weeks, but over the Christmas break I braved the weather and set about taking the car apart, in the knowledge that I didn't need to use it for a few days at least. Once stuck in, and having been helped to remove two rounded off screws from the top edge of the bumper, it all came off fairly easily. Unfortunately, the splitter came off quite badly, and was left hanging precariously almost in two pieces. Superglue (and almost superglueing said splitter to the living room floor - oops!) came to the rescue. Finished off with some touch up paint over the crack it was much less noticeable.
Refitting the new bumper wasn't quite so straightforward, but with a bit of a wrestle and some help at the garage it was able to be fitted, tidying up the front end nicely. I decided not to refit the black grills, as much as I loved them on the old bumper, I didn't think they looked right on the JDM one. For now they are in my garage waiting for me to decide what to do with them. The only thing that was left was to give it it's first wash of the year, something which waited until just last week before I could take some nice photos for a blog post.
For now, the plate has taken residence in the windscreen, though I have plans for an offset vinyl plate below the passenger side headlight, as soon as I can remember to take some measurements...
Before: With UKDM plate plinth, washers and pink paint
So that's why it's called a splitter!
After: The clean lines of the front end compliment the S2000's shape
During: Bumper removed, the washer jets turned out to be a messy job
Old vs. New: A clear difference
The latest car update comes courtesy of something I discovered just prior to the 'Ring trip.
I was busy with the puzzle of fitting a week's worth of supplies into the back of the S2000, when after removing the tool kit from the bottom of the well, I found out exactly why it was called a well... I had water 2" deep sloshing around underneath everything. Not ideal!
A little damp in the back...
It was something that I'd put off for some time, almost knowingly, as I'd seen the common leak threads on the S2000 forum and I'd also seen my rear lights misting up, a tell tale sign that something isn't right. As such, it didn't come as a complete shock. Either way, I was heading to Germany in less than 24 hours time as it would have to wait til my return to be treated.
I knew from my research that there could have been any of three sources of my problem. The most likely, I figured, was the roof, not in the best condition and certainly in need of a replacement early next year. The fix for this involved most of the interior being removed, something that I wasn't too keen to try. Another option would be the rails in front of the boot lid, though everything around this area seemed to be dry. The final source would be a vent behind the back bumper, with an easy fix. It turned out to soaking around this area, and I'd got relatively lucky with a simple job on my hands.
Working on a Honda is a joy, having come from French cars where nothing is designed to be removed and there are awkward sized torx screws everywhere, the handful of bolts to remove the rear bumper are a doddle and it was off in less than 10 minutes, giving me access to the problematic vent. At this point it was clear to see that this was where the water was getting in. With everything dried off, all it took was a tube full of silicon sealer to see things right.
Silicon seal on the outside...
...and silicon seal on the inside, just to be sure!
With the problem fixed, I mopped up the remaining water from the boot floor and pondered for a second. A previous owner had fitted sound deadening throughout the boot for his sound system and I thought I may have been saved from the water penetrating further. Even still, I couldn't be sure and made the decision to gut the well back to the metal. Good call. Yet more water was lurking underneath and the OEM insulation below was soggy too. I didn't stop until it was all out. Now looking quite a mess, though clear to see there was only a little surface rust.
The damage wasn't too bad
A whole bag full of sound deadening removed!
I had poured some water over the fix and everything seemed watertight, but I decided to leave the boot in it's current state for the week to ensure that it had worked, and that no water was entering from another source. It turned out to be just the week for my testing, some of the worst floods to hit the area would surely show how effective my repair would be. And effective it was, with everything dry as a bone come the weekend. A successful job carried out, all that remained now was to sand down the rust, apply a coat of Hammerite to further protect the area and once that had dried, replace all the trim, back to normal.
A good test for the freshly sealed vent
Since buying the S2000, one thing has always bugged me. While the bodywork is in great condition for it's age, the OEM wheels looked like they had been run with no tyres and then slid along the floor face down. The long term plan is still to get some Enkeis in the future, though these will be expensive and require a bit of work on the car to fit, so in the meantime I've settled for... some more OEM MY00 16"s. I'll admit, I disliked these before I bought the car, but the simple five spoke design has really grown on me and I've come to realise that it's the later, smaller looking, diamond cut 16"s that I dislike. Also, although I've not driven on any different sized wheels to compare, I like the way the car feels as Honda intended.
These new wheels are 99% mint, which is more than enough. I've now got no kerbing around the rim of any wheel and only a couple of light, unnoticeable marks on the faces. The previous owner had added some grey stickers down the length of each spoke, which although they were not too noticeable, they weren't really to my taste. Luckily these came off without too much persuasion. It seems they may have even protected the wheels from some small scrapes in the past too, which is a bonus. I also realised that under the 'S' sticker on the two included centre caps were the original Honda 'H' logo in perfect condition, so that's two spares of them that I now have!
I had my Bridgestone RE002s swapped over to the new wheels. They're quite soft and grippy, which is a good thing, but they're quite soft and wearing at fairly quite rate, which is not a good thing. The rears ought to last me for the next three months with my 170 miles per week plus a trip to Germany on top of that, then I think they'll need replacing.
But for now I'm left with a tidier looking car and with a trackday at Llandow coming up in two weeks time, some rough 16"s and a spare set of partly legal Bridgestones might come in handy...
I'm back! After an enjoyable short drive out I now have my first in car footage from the S2000, shot in gorgeous 1080p on the Galaxy S3. Everything worked as planned, at least after the first trial run when I realised the rattling sound behind me was the nuts on the mount coming undone as I'd only done them up finger tight... I now need to try to minimize the wind noise (having the windows up helped but I might try some foam over the microphone) and I need to remove the Magic Tree before the next run!
Watch on Youtube (full screen) for full 1080p loveliness ;-)
After recording various videos in my previous car using a phone mount on the windscreen, I decided I wanted something with a better point of view in the S2000. It wasn't long before I found the Modifry
website. I hadn't realised that I already had one of their products in my car, the incredibly handy glovebox organiser - a couple of thin plastic shelves that slot together in a way to give a much better use of the small storage space. I decided to go for the low profile glovebox mount, which cost around £40 including shipping to the UK. The next step was to find a way to mount a phone using the standard thread on the mount, so my next purchase was a cheap £10 Ebay tripod, with a spring loaded attachment to firmly hold the sides of the phone. It took a long time to be delivered (from China!) but once it did, it was clear it was perfect for the job, the clamp holding the phone much tighter than I had expected. The Modifry base was fitted in around 10 minutes and handily enables to the mount to be clipped on and off in seconds. All that's left now is to go out and test it...
A simple and cheap mod today, as I had a parcel arrive from the US. Three small discs colour coded to the car, fitted in seconds. Makes a nice subtle difference to the look of the car.
They cost around £10 including the shipping, and arrived in a week. Top service from JS2K
A productive day for the S2000 today, only a few small jobs but nevertheless some more things ticked off the list. Windscreen washers actually point to the windscreen, I've fitted an aerial booster so that I can listen to the radio uninterupted and I've pulled a wire out from under the dashboard which means I can do this...
Roof will now lower on the move with just one click of the handbrake. Not recommended over 10mph but handy for a heavy downpour while crawling through the traffic!