How to Fix an Umbrella

We’ve all seen this before – the ‘broken spoke’ which seems to me to be the most common failure of the contemporary umbrella, from the $4 street corner specials to the $20 upmarket models with the ‘lifetime guarantee’, which I assume means the lifetime of the average housefly.

This is particularly aggravating to me because although the metal can be recycled the lifetime of an umbrella is incredibly short considering how often it is actually used. In my case my umbrella had not even been in the wind; it’s just so poorly made that part of it broke.

Here’s an internal examination of the problem, which in this case is a complete break of the outer spokes away from the core. It’s really very sad.

And also very aggravating because the root cause of these problems is the bottom-dollar riveting used

This metal is so soft in the cheaper models that I can dent it with a thumbnail. Even the expensive models such as this one (no names but it rhymes with “boats”) they obviously aren’t’ up to the job.

There is hope however, if you have a pair of pliers and an Ebay account- these are ‘barbells’ used in piercing and body modification. I bought a few because they’re so cheap (about $1.50 per) and I imagine that more rivets will fail. They’re made of stainless steel and have a threaded ball at one end.

So, using your pair of pliers, pull out the old rivets and replace them with the barbells. I recommend a dab of Loctite to keep the ball from coming unthreaded.

It’s a little bit fiddly but once it’s done the umbrella is returned to full working order and you can walk with a little spring in your step that you’ve kept your umbrella out of the landfill for a little while longer.

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