Umbrella Base Neck Tube Won’t Stay On

Umbrella Base Construction

It is common practice for umbrella companies to make umbrella base neck tubes out of aluminum. There are threads machined into the bottom of the tube itself so that you can screw the tube into the bottom plate.

Aluminum is a softer metal than steel. Moving the base around by using the umbrella pole as a lever puts a lot of strain on the threads in the tube. Windy weather can do the same thing over time by shaking the umbrella in its base. The strain wears out the threads to the point that eventually they will not hold anymore.

The 7 ‘P’s – “Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance”

Coat the threads of your new base tube with thread locker Red. This is a great step to take to help defeat vibration destruction. Thread locker is an epoxy compound designed to keep bolts from working loose. Red identifies the permanent thread locker compound. It will make sure your umbrella base tube stays on.

When Prevention Isn’t Enough

I can order replacement neck tubes from larger companies such as Galtech, Treasure Garden, Basta Sole and TUUCI. Unknown mass market products found in many online outlets and “big box” stores are often not worth repairing. There are no parts for them, and the cost of paying a machinist to make another one would be greater than the replacement cost of the base itself.

Do Patio Umbrella Bases Go to Heaven?

Umbrella bases are very durable.

There must be a special place for unused patio umbrella bases. They’re practically indestructible. You’ll still have one once your umbrella wears out. You may not know that you can order replacement umbrellas from me. And if you have just found this site after throwing your broken umbrella away, you probably didn’t know that I fix patio umbrellas and sell parts for them.

Basta Sole umbrella base

Basta Sole umbrella base

The umbrella base in the photo above has a cross leg configuration. Heavy weights such as flagstones go in the four sections to insure that the umbrella will not fall over when the wind comes up. I suspect that the target weight requirement for this one would be in the neighborhood of 200 lbs (93 KG).

Hey Mister…

Wanna play baseball with me?

Ready for baseball

Ready for baseball

Omigosh! How could I say no to this??

I have just the thing.

Ready for Tee Ball

Ready for Tee Ball

Batter UP!

Play Ball!

– Proud Grandpa Albert

How DO YOU get your patio umbrella home?

The ‘Slippery Slope’

Getting a patio umbrella home seems like a pretty simple thing to do on the face of things. The clear question from the uninitiated is, “Well – How hard can it be?” I have to believe that a good many people have been led to their downfall by asking this very question. If you have to ask, then look out; you’re going to find out! You’re teetering at the top of the proverbial slippery slope.

Patio Umbrella box is too long to fit inside car

Patio Umbrella box is too long to fit inside car

How can something so simple be so hard?

The person who coined the phrase, “Trial and error,” was a brilliant observer of human experience. When you succeed at something then you get to stop trying after all. The expression, “You always find what you want in the last place you look,” is another example of the same idea. It’s easy to overlook the energy needed to achieve a good result. You would make yourself look silly if you started calling your efforts “Trial and success!”

Beginner’s luck is not unusual, but it highlights someone who achieves success without a proper understanding of what they have done. This really isn’t much of an issue for things that one expects to do only once in a lifetime. It is a problem for those things that you will have to master to be able to repeat again. You need to know what you are doing to achieve consistency.

Do it right the first time!

I remember working for an executive who was fond of using this expression. He was talking to trained engineers, and what he actually meant to say was, “Do it right the next time.” He wanted to reduce mistakes by people he felt needed an admonition to be more careful in their work. Trial and error, when properly understood as a practical approach to achievement, tells us that the very first attempt at something is likely to go badly.

You have to get things wrong in the beginning in order to get them right later on.

So how many patio umbrellas do we ever carry around in our cars? Not many, I’ll wager. Here is my first attempt to carry one.

A Patio Umbrella loaded into my car

A Patio Umbrella loaded into my car

I put the umbrella in through the sun roof because it would fit that way. My daughter is helping me, but she’s mortified. She said, “I can’t believe that my Dad is still able to embarrass me at my age!” I got the umbrella in my car all right. It wouldn’t be safe to drive, however. Trial and error, for sure!

Simplify the problem

A worthwhile strategy is to find a way to make the problem simpler to tackle. Another common expression asks for the proper way to eat an elephant. An answer you might expect to hear in motivational speeches is to find a place to start and then persistently gnaw away at the problem until it is gone. Things are easier and they go faster when you have a team of people working together on different parts of the problem at the same time. Fortunately, a patio umbrella isn’t such a big deal!

Patio Umbrella with the bottom pole removed

Patio Umbrella with the bottom pole removed

I removed the bottom pole to make the umbrella much shorter overall. It’s still too long if I can’t put the back seat of my car down to get it out of the way.

A brand new umbrella still in its original box would not have its bottom pole attached to reduce shipping costs.


So how do you get 10 pounds of umbrella into a 5 pound car?

This photo shows a much better way to safely get an umbrella home.

A Patio Umbrella put over the passenger seat in a car

A Patio Umbrella put over the passenger seat in a car

I reclined the back of the passenger seat far enough to make room for the umbrella box. Then I put the box in the car through the passenger side door. The box runs from the foot well in the front and over the seat into the back. This simple solution looks obvious in hindsight, but sometimes the obvious is the hardest thing to find when you’re starting out.

Success at last

There you have it. A large patio umbrella carried in an ordinary car. I should let you know that umbrellas over 11′ in diameter and cantilever models, the ones with poles on the side instead of in the middle, are unlikely to fit in a car at all.


Cast Aluminum Furniture Glides

Outdoor furniture made out of cast aluminum has become very popular. Its ornamental styling is attractive. Cast aluminum furniture pieces are available in many sets and configurations. The main set pieces in outdoor furnishing are used to make up a dining area and a deep seating area. These correspond to the indoor dining room and the living room. Adding set pieces such as a BBQ and a fire pit create an outdoor kitchen + dining area and an outdoor family room. Additional pieces such as a fireplace or a weatherproof flat screen TV carry the family room/entertainment center concept even further.

What is a furniture glide?

Furniture glides are the little feet placed at the bottom of each leg to protect the flooring from unwanted scratches. A bare metal leg can literally gouge stamped concrete and flagstone patio surfaces. Cast aluminum furniture glides look like little bolts with plastic heads on them.

A typical cast aluminum furniture glide.

A typical cast aluminum furniture glide.

Some people believe that the main benefit of the threaded glide is that it can be adjusted to level the furniture. Outdoor hardscape has many rough surfaces. It isn’t made to be perfectly level because water runoff is more important in the design than a perfectly level concrete floor. The glide protects both the hardscape and the furniture legs from excessive wear and scratches.

Taking care of your cast aluminum furniture glides

I recommend that you take each glide out of its leg and coat the threaded part with thread locker “blue” as soon as your new furniture arrives. Screw the glide all the way back in place before the thread locker sets. This will prevent the vibration that occurs when you drag your furniture across the patio from working loose glides out of the furniture. Glides usually get lost when they fall out. Contact me to order replacements.

It also prevents water from working its way into the joint between the leg and the glide through capillary action. This helps to stop another more serious problem from bothering you later on; namely, the treatment keeps corrosion from “cold welding” the glides permanently in place. Corrosion is a slow process that takes place over many months or years as a result of a chemical reaction between a metal and water. Aluminum develops a thick powdery surface as it deteriorates. Corroded material expands, and, in an enclosed space such as the inside of a pocket drilled to hold a bolt, it squeezes a bolt so tightly that it cannot be removed without breaking.

An ounce of prevention for your furniture glides really is worth a pound of cure!

You may want to replace worn out furniture glides in the future. You will certainly want to replace the glides if have your furniture refinished because the heat applied in the powder coating process will ruin them. That would be a bad time to find and read this post. Hindsight is great, but who wants to find himself saying, “Prevention? – What prevention?!!”


Spider Proof Your Outdoor Furniture

Spring has finally arrived bringing the robust growth we love and enjoy in our yards. Beautiful flowers, green lawns and bugs of all kinds are everywhere!

Some of these bugs are not only uninviting, they are downright dangerous. The black widow spider is an example of an insect that shares our outdoor entertaining from a hiding place tucked away in the very furniture we sit on. This spider is reclusive during the day, but it comes out to trap food once the sun sets. It inflicts a dangerous bite on arms and legs that get too close in the dark. Black widows have actually killed people!

Black widows make wispy webs with no particular form to them.

A Black Widow spider web underneath a wicker chaise lounge

A Black Widow spider web underneath a wicker chaise lounge

The strands are stronger than other spider webs and when you brush them away you might actually hear a faint crackling sound. The photo shows a web that has leaves and other debris trapped in it, perhaps from the blowers gardeners use to clean up after themselves. This adds to the overall disorganized appearance of the black widow spider web.

Look for dead insects on the ground under your furniture. Pill bugs are a spider favorite in my area. These signs are all tells that let you know a black widow lives nearby.

The Black Widow spider that lives under an outdoor wicker chaise lounge.

The Black Widow spider that lives under an outdoor wicker chaise lounge.


Vinyl wicker furniture is very popular. It has an elegant appearance in an amazing variety of shapes and pieces. One can find a veritable spider apartment hotel inside its skirts and panels! There are things that make a retail sales person’s job especially difficult. Things such as telling potential customers of the benefit and value to be found in paying attention to keeping their wicker furniture free of spiders. It comes down to a choice between either killing the sale now or killing the customer later!

Plug up hollow Swivel Rocker posts

One favorite hiding place for these spiders is inside the hollow tube that joins the chair part of a swivel rocker to its base. Less than ½” in diameter and about 6” long, this tube easily provides an ideal home for a full grown spider. Some companies seal the top of the tube for appearance sake, and a few use a solid post, but most are open on the bottom.

It makes perfect sense to plug the ends of your swivel rocker posts to keep spiders out once and for all. It’s easy, too! A wine cork is too big around for this unless you go to the trouble to cut it down. You might just stuff a packing peanut into the tube, but the easiest and neatest solution I have found is to roll a small piece of a thin foam packing sheet into a cork-like cylinder to put into the opening. I cut a piece about 1 ½” x 6” to start and then roll it up. I cut a little off the end if it is a little too big to fit snugly. This material does not absorb water and it resists the weather. No spider is strong enough to get past it. I personally would not lose any sleep if I actually trapped a spider inside the tube in the process of sealing it!

Swivel rocker post with rolled foam packing material inserted.

Swivel rocker post with rolled foam packing material inserted.

Search out and kill dangerous spiders in your furniture

BTW: The best sure-fire way to kill a black widow is to smash it with something. Spider-proofing gives you more of an opportunity than you would otherwise have of actually finding a spider. Black widows are remarkably resistant to poisons and drowning, etc. Flush the spider out of hiding with a stick or broom. Make sure that it doesn’t get on you and then step on it or smash it another way. You want to make sure you see a dead spider when you finish.

Albert Richardson

Keep your ribs in their pockets!

Keep patio umbrella covers in place

Many patio umbrella covers have pockets sewn in the corners. These pockets go over the ends of the ribs to keep the cover in place. Sometimes the fabric stretches out a little bit so that pockets fall off the ribs when the umbrella is closed. You will know if this is happening to you because you have to put the pockets back on the ribs again as you open the umbrella to make it look right.

This post describes a simple modification you can make to your umbrella to keep the ribs in the pockets where they belong once and for all.

IMG_1916Visit your favorite hardware store

Find some simple materials for making this modification at your local hardware store. Buy a 7/64” drill bit to make pilot holes for the screws. Buy #6 stainless steel screws 1/2” long, #6 stainless washers and small rubber bib washers for fixing faucets. Use brass hardware if you can’t find stainless steel.

The photo shows you the sequence for putting the washers on the screws. The bib washer keeps the fabric from fraying.

Make the modification

The pilot hole goes in the underside of each rib about 1/2” from the end. Pull the fabric up tight on the rib so that it is where it will be when the canopy is open. Drill the pilot hole through the underside of the pocket fabric and the bottom of the rib.

Put in the screw. Be careful not to over tighten it. The rib has a thin aluminum wall that is weaker than the steel screw. Too much tightening will auger the wall completely away so that the screw will not hold. You can put something such as a pink school eraser inside the end of the rib to serve as an anchor if this should happen. Let the eraser stick out of the end of the rib a little to replace the original plastic insert.


Replace Worn Out Swivel Rocker Glides

The focus of my business is patio umbrella repair. This has not always been the case. I have made a good many repairs to patio furniture as well.

This article tells you how to replace worn out glides in the bottom of your swivel rocker base. Swivel rocker bases are typically made of cast aluminum. Casting creates the complex shape needed for the curves in the base without requiring a lot of assembly to put the parts together. The glide is the plastic button set into the bottom of the base. It  protects both your chair and patio surface from unwanted scratching.

Swivel Rocker Glide1

This photo shows a worn out glide. The scratches in the bottom of the chair are plain to see. Bare metal is capable of scratching flagstone and stamped concrete patio surfaces.

Getting started

Begin by placing a furniture blanket or an equivalent on the ground to keep from scratching your chair. Upend the chair on the blanket. Lay the chair down on its arms and back. Now you have ready access to the bottom of the base.

Tools: An electric drill, a 7/32″ drill bit and a 1/4″ drill bit

The standard diameter of the stem area of the glide is 1/4”. We will use a 7/32” drill bit to cut the worn of stem out of the base. A variable speed drill you can run slowly works best.

Tools: An awl

I like to put a guide dimple as close to the center of the hole I want to drill as possible. The notion here is simply that I want the hole to wind up where I expect it to be. If I leave the dimple step out then I might as well be happy to drill a hole wherever the bit will make it after it stops drifting away from my spot. Cast aluminum is a soft metal and drill bits are hardened steel. The bit could easily ruin the existing hole in the base if the bit drifts off to the side of nylon plug.

Put a dimple in the center of the nylon plug using an awl or scribe. A center punch will do, but those are typically used for metal and other harder materials. As a last resort you could use a nail or drywall screw for a punch.

The heart of the job

Slowly run the drill bit down the center of the plug. It will cut a neat spiral right to the bottom, and when you pull the bit out, it will take what’s left of the nylon post out with it.

Turn the base around in front of you as you work to drill out all eight glides.

Now replace the 7/32” bit with a 1/4” bit to clean up the holes. Carefully run the bit down into each hole. Be careful to hold the drill as straight as possible to keep from enlarging the hole.

Your new glides

I like to replace the glides with Tropitone® swivel rocker glides. They are very strong and durable. They really do wear like nobody’s business!

You can buy these glides from me. Visit the How to Order page to contact me.

Drive each replacement glide into its hole with a small hammer.

Swivel Rocker Glide2

This photo shows you the finished result.


Registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Secure Threaded Connections in Galtech Umbrellas


This article applies to Galtech 739DC and 787DC models. These umbrellas have components in the main pole assembly that screw together.

Galtech 739 and 787 umbrella crank housing connections

Galtech 739 and 787 umbrella crank housing connections

It was a surprise to me to learn that an open umbrella could actually spin apart under certain windy conditions. Sometimes the effects are cumulative. A little turn now and then may eventually lead to a crash. Tightening the screws in the umbrella base prevents the umbrella from sailing up in the air, but it also prevents the umbrella pole from turning freely. Sometimes this feature is a nuisance when you want to tilt your umbrella and then turn it yourself to follow the Sun.

The whole umbrella tends to turn in place when the wind is stronger on one side than the other. Vibration and joint corrosion can cause threaded connections to loosen so that they may gradually come apart. Ordinary weather conditions can cause this to happen. The wind is likely to shake an umbrella from side to side, and temperature changes can cause threaded joints to expand and contract. A force on the umbrella that is stronger on the left side than the right will tend to unscrew the weakest joint. The result is that these joints sometimes come apart all by themselves.

Check your umbrella periodically to make sure threaded joints are tight.

You might have to tighten and secure the threaded connections built into the Galtech 739 and 787 umbrella models. I believe most people would not know that threads hold this Galtech crank housing together. It takes eight turns to take the casting apart and ten turns to remove the whole umbrella from the bottom pole.

The photo in this article shows the crank housing Galtech uses on its 739 and 787 models. This assembly is made of three metal castings. The arrows pointing to the brass bands show you where the joints that hold the castings together are. The bottom arrow shows you where the bottom pole screws into the housing.

Preventive maintenance

Check your umbrella by taking it down. Lay it on its side on a table, and then try to unscrew the parts by hand. The bottom pole should be the only part that will turn. This is not a problem if it does. Use Loctite® Threadlocker Red 271® or another thread locking product to glue the other two joints together if they are loose. Follow the directions on the package of the product you buy.

Albert Richardson

Registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

What makes Auto-Tilt umbrellas work?

The auto-tilt umbrella has become popular in recent years. There is no button in the middle of the hinge in the pole to push to make it tilt. In fact, it is not obvious at all to someone seeing this umbrella for the first time what to do to engage the tilt. All you do to make these umbrellas tilt is to crank the umbrella some more once they are all the way open.

The heart of the auto-tilt umbrella is a spring-loaded rod. This rod has one end attached to the hinge in the middle of the pole. It is a little over a foot long. In some models it extends into the pole above the hinge, and in others it lies inside the pole below the hinge. The Galtech International hinge, and I believe the Basta Sole hinge have a sequence of angled plates fastened inside so that the rod can push the umbrella top over when the spring is compressed enough to take the tension off of it. This design reminds me of the scissor arm design found in some cabinet hardware that allows a door with a hinge mounted from behind instead of on the side as would be customary to close flush in its frame.

I have repaired umbrellas with three different designs for the mechanism to make them tilt. There must be others as well. Two designs compress the spring from the top of the pole above the hinge, and the third pulls the rod toward the hinge from below. The lift cord is the “engine” that provides the energy for tilting. Galtech International and Basta Sole both use a stainless steel lift cord in their umbrellas to insure that it is strong enough to provide the pull needed to compress the strong tilt spring. Fiberbuilt uses a braided synthetic cord in its design. The Fiberbuilt design pulls the rod down from the top. It uses a simple hinge with an angled slot in it for a pin in the tilt rod to ride in to force the umbrella to tilt.

All of the designs share the idea that the lift cord must pull the runner hub as far as it will go before the umbrella can tilt. The additional pull more cranking provides once the runner hub has stopped serves to compress the tilt spring so the tilt rod pushes the top go over to one side. I have never seen a tilt mechanism in a market style umbrella that is capable of making the unit tilt in more than one direction.

Albert Richardson

About your umbrella cover

Choose genuine solution-dyed acrylic cloth

Galtech Grade ‘A’ and Grade ‘B’ umbrella covers are made from genuine Sunbrella® brand upholstery cloth from Glen Raven Mills, Inc. Sunbrella® fabrics are solution-dyed acrylics that withstand the effects of sunlight and weathering for many years. Colored fibers are used to spin the thread to be woven into cloth. The color you see in the finished cloth is literally built into it. Careful process controls virtually eliminate dye lot differences altogether.

Fabric grades shown in umbrella company catalogs are a way to group fabrics by price. Each company establishes its own grading system based on what the cloth they buy costs them. Galtech seems to follow the grading standards used in the agricultural commodities industries where ‘A’ is the best produce of all, but the rest of the outdoor furnishings manufacturers label their fabrics the other way around. The outdoor furniture industry standard practice is to label the least expensive fabric ‘A’ and the most expensive can run up to ‘E’ or ‘F’.

Galtech ‘A’ grade fabrics have patterns and light textures woven into them. Grade ‘B’ fabrics are smooth upholstery available mostly in solid color an stripes. Sunbrella® ‘A’ and ‘B’ grade upholstery fabrics all work equally well for umbrella covers. They are all colorfast and durable in normal use.

As a practical matter smooth and lightly textured fabrics work best for umbrella covers. Heavier smooth fabrics made for awnings and marine applications also work well. Plush and heavily textured upholstery fabrics catch too much dirt out of the air to make satisfactory umbrella covers.

Laundering your Sunbrella® umbrella cover

You may remove the cover from your center pole umbrella simply by closing it and then laying it on its side on a table or other convenient surface. Remove the ornamental knob (finial) from the top. Next, pull the corner pockets off the ribs.

Launder your cover just as you would any other acrylic, but don’t put it in the dryer. You may use chlorine bleach in the wash to help remove mildew stains, etc. Visit to find manufacturer instructions for general cleaning and removing stains.

Put your clean damp cover back on the umbrella.

It is easy to put the cover back on your umbrella. Begin by holding it by the grommet at the top to shake it out to loosen and separate the cloth. It should hang freely like a full skirt. Lay the cover over a table and then put the frame up inside it all the way to the grommet. Do not put the finial back on yet. Now line up a seam in the cover with a rib underneath it and pull the pocket over the end of the rib. I like to start with the shortest rib for the oval umbrella because it seems like the hardest one to find. Move to the next pocket and rib and put that one on. Just pull any fabric free that may bunch up under the frame. Continue this way until all the pockets have been put back on. You should find that you have not skipped anything this way when you’re done. Finally put the finial back on the top.

Albert Richardson