As an update, I took some wise advice and replaced the plastic end caps with the newer carefree caps with the integrated springs. My springs were wasted and this solved both the problems I had.
I bought new vinyl at a local RV clearance center for $100 and the new springs and end caps for $150. I'm missing the center support piece so I ended up strapping the awning down with some ratchet tie downs. With the winds here this weekend, I probably would have done it anyway.
Thanks to all who've chimed in. Next up is an alumiguard add on.