OK, its bound to happen. You are walking around your studio, you hit your light stand, knocking it over. Or even though you have a ton of sand bags on your light stands outside, a gust of wind whips up and blows it over. In either case you scream, run over, and see a couple of bent or broken supporting rods to the spokes of the umbrella. There isn't anything you can do except run down to your nearest camera store or order another umbrella online.
After three umbrellas I got to thinking there has to be a better way and being a hands-on guy I think I've come up with a reasonable fix. I've seen web pages suggesting a fiberglass rod to replace the supporting rod. That's pretty good. They are flexible and chances are if it falls again it would flex enough but another rod would break or bent. I don't have small fiberglass rods like that and they could be hard to find. Like other folks I want to do something with materials on-hand or something I could get my hands on quickly.
If you looks at the supporting rods they are actually long skinny strips of metal bent in a “U” shape along the length of the rod. Instead of using a solid cylinder style rod they use a “U” shape rod for cost and ease of assembly. Instead of replacing the rod I'm thinking of reinforcing the rods. So my answer is wired coat hangers.
Step 1: List of materials
The materials needed are:
Wire coat hangers – preferred not coated but you will be hard pressed to find them.
Cleaning swabs – used to apply the epoxy if you don't want to get your hands dirty
Tie wraps – to hold the rods together
Small Side Cutters – trimming and cutting the tie wraps
Heavy pliers or wire cutters – to cut the hangers to size
Sand Paper – to remove the coating on the hangers if they are coated
JB Weld – to glue the hangers to the rod.
Left out of the picture (ok I forgot):
long nose pliers – used in the attempt to straighten the rods
rubber gloves – if really don't want to get your hands dirty