Introduction: How to Repair Tent Pole Elastic Cord (Re-thread) - the Easy Way
All tent poles are bound to fail at some time due to wearing of the elastic bungee cord around the end of the tent pole aperture.
So before you even think of throwing the tent away look at this process which allows you to fix them with ease.
You can also step to the video here:
Step 1: Identify and Purchase a New Cord
Identify the cord diameter for replacement.
On cheap tents this will usually be around 2mm in diameter which is not very strong or durable.
If you measure the opening diameter of the pole you may find you can use a thicker diameter.
On my tent poles I went for a 3mm diameter cord over the existing 2mm.
You can purchase the cord on ebay. I am in the UK and got 10 meters for around £3.
Note, The new cord (3mm) is black in the photos and the worn old cord is white with blue and red.
You will need a minimum of 10 meters for a two man dome style tent which has two tent poles. Any tent bigger than two man dome you will need to measure the pole lengths assembled and purchase length accordingly.
Update: I recently measured the original cord and found it to be 50% of the length of the poles when assembled.
So depending on the amount of elastic stretch in your cord, you could purchase a new cord that was 75% of the length of the assembled poles as a rough guess.
Step 2: Find Your Threader
You now need to find yourself a threader to feed the cord through.
I have found an excellent metal threader inside an old windscreen wiper. So when you come to replace your windscreen wipers save them Or salvage some from your local garage.
You will find two strips of metal which run the length of the wiper blade you need to remove these from the wiper blade assembly.
The best wiper blades are those from a saloon car or a van for the best length.
Ideally you need wiper blades of length around 50cm - 52 cm so they are just longer than a single pole of the tent pole assembly.
Note, my photo shows a windscreen wiper but its too short also NOT ALL WINDSCREEN WIPERS have metal inserts.
The cheaper wiper blades are unlikely to have metal inserts.
Step 3: Join Threader to New Cord
You now need to join the threader to the new cord.
This is done by a butt joint of the threader and cord together and then securing with a very small amount of sticky tape. I used one revolution of sticky tape here in the photo.
Do not use a lot of tape as this will add drag to the threader and make it stick to inside wall of the tent pole.
Step 4: Remove Old Elastic Cord and Re-thread New Cord
With your poles clear of old cord, push the the threader through the pole aperture. It should glide easily and once the threader is poking out the other end pull the threader through gently. Remember if this is difficult then you probably got too much sticky tape. Once through pull the threader through and continue to thread all the other poles.
Being frugal I use up the old elastic cord. The old cord can be used for lanyards and neck cords. I hung all my USB storage sticks up of the old cord.
Step 5: Tension Cord and Tie Off the Ends
Getting the right tension is trial and error so after threading all the pole do experiment with you cord tension.
The tension must be easier enough to pull poles apart BUT stiff enough to hold them together when threading through the tent.
To tie off the ends i use a figure of eight knot as this is larger knot and it is easy to adjust this knot.
A larger knot on the end will wear better.
Once you have the tension correct then cut the cord.
Step 6: Finished - Store Threader for Next Repair
You should now have repaired tent poles.
Remember to hang on to your threader for your next tent repair!
I hope you all find this useful.
Thanks for watching!
6 years ago
I use to have 5 patents on making tent poles specifically used in the Trade Show industry. I purchased over $1 million dollars worth of them over my 14 years. If you are going to use fiberglass ok but they are extremely heavy and will break. I suggest you go to REI (the company that gave me the name of the company I used in South Korea). You can cut them to any length and we used a 1/2" drill mounted on a board, with a custom auto tamper drill that cost about $80 that is sized for each size of aluminum tubing your are using. It simply cuts inside and outside at the same time and complete finished the end of the tube to factory perfect standards... then just run your bungee through it. We used a Fruit Bag stapler, however they are not used any more, but you can use any thing that will hold the bungee such as a small washer tied that will hold the system together. Many aluminum end tips are available with different purposes about $1 each. I made molds and produced our own special design that had a hole through it to staple the bungee and then a bungee tampering to squeeze and hold the end inside the tube. It worked very well and after selling $14 mil of our 1-25 products we had to close after the 2008 bomb sell. If you are interested in how I started my company and moved it from a $14 investment to a $14 mil. sales revenue over 14 years... I am in the process of writing my book. If you would like an advance notice of the book please send your email to: Les@LesLaMotte.com
7 years ago
I just used fishing line or heavy thread and a heavy needle to go through the poles.
Simply thread the needle and drop it through the pole & pull it out when it falls through the bottom. Go though all the poles one at a time, trailing the fishing line or thread. I connect each poles after I put the thread through. When you finish the last one, push the needle through the elastic cord near the end (like you are sewing), and tie a knot in the fishing line or thread (if you use fishing line tie a good fishing knot, it is slippery). Then pull the line from the other end and it will pull the cord through all of the poles. Rest of the directions from the instructable work fine
Reply 6 years ago
Couldn't you sew the new cord to the old with a stitch or two, (after knot is removed) and then pull the other end of the old cord?
7 years ago
ebay do a easy kit which comes with shockcord, threading steel and washers (tie behind so easy secure). Works well I don't tape but use pliers to pinch threading steel closed around shockcord. Ebay prices £3.90 - £5.00 depending on vendor includes postage UK. Enough cord and washers for 3 poles from family tent
10 years ago on Introduction
cool. very clever.
last time I had to restring poles I used a can of compressed air to blow the shock cord thru.
10 years ago on Introduction
I use a different method, I take my shop vac and suck fishing line thru the poles and then pull the shock cord thru.
Reply 10 years ago on Introduction
That's another interesting method......
I wonder if the fish line could work with just a small lead weight on it without the hoover and just drop the feeder line through the pole vertically. It may not be quick but useful approach with very limited resources at hand (i.e. no hoover or shop vac)
Hopefully we will end up with quite a good list of various methods here with this article.
Thanks for your input.
10 years ago on Step 6
If it's a pipe, I find an easier way to thread anything through it is to get some string.
Put the string end at the pipe entrance and suck at the other end. The string should follow through unless it's damp/obstructed.
Reply 10 years ago on Step 6
That's another interesting method!
Personally i wouldn't recommended sucking through an old glassfibre pole just for the glass splinters alone.
Aluminum poles OK.