Chris. I don't worry about it because I can't see it and I don't feel it weakens or harms the stand in any way. However that's just me and I accept that for others it's annoying. No matter what you coated it with, being in such a harsh environment, I feel it would always end up looking ratty. After you've repainted it, could you split a piece of soft pvc tubing length ways and slide it over the cross bar. You may not like the look of that either, but at least you wouldn't have to repaint it so often. Just a thought.