A Finnishing touch for my wheels

Maureen Corrigan
The front wheels of my scooter fell off on the first day of a holiday in Finland. It was on an unexpected cobblestone paths. Luckily, I was outside a carpentry shop and two men helped put the wheels back on. However, the wheels kept falling off. I went to buy my own set of tools to fix the wheels. I could not find a hardware store so I went to a large department store. I was lucky that a shop assistant was able to properly fix the wheels. From then on, I was able to use many other cobblestone paths.
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Maureen Corrigan on 18/11/2013
A close up of the wheels of two wheelchairs.
close up of two wheelchairs

The paths made it difficult to navigate wheelchairs and scooters.

When I travelled to Finland recently I did not expect the front wheels of my scooter to fall off. The cobblestoned streets were the problem. These streets were part of an older Europe.

My accident happened in Helsinki, the design capital of the world. I expected Helsinki to be a mostly modern city. However, there were many old buildings of unusual styles to discover, and some streets had the worst kind of cobblestones for wheelchairs and scooters. These were cobblestones that repeatedly twist and turn wheels.

Kept falling off

Luck was on my side when the front wheels of my scooter fell off on a back road. My friends retrieved the front wheels, the fastening screws, the rest of the scooter and me, and placed us all on the footpath. I looked at the shop in front of me, through the open front door. It was a joinery carpentry shop. We asked for help. Two men found a set of Allen keys and put the wheels back on.

However, that was not the end of the story. Later that day the wheels wobbled off again after we got off a ferry to see the UNESCO-listed old fortress of Suomenlinna. The woman at the information desk obliged this time, and produced an Allen key. We put the wheels back on but decided we needed to get our own set of Allen keys. After all, this was only day one of our holiday in Finland.

When we were back in the city we could not find any hardware stores of the sort we have in Australia. We decided to go to a large department store to try to find an Allen key set. We found a store called Stockman and asked for help but no one seemed to know where we might find Allen keys. We went to the floor where they sold bicycles, and hoped we might be lucky there.

Fixed properly

We asked a young man working in the section and yes, they had a set of Allen keys for sale. With luck on our side again, an older man who also worked there came over to see what was happening. He looked at my scooter sitting up on its rear wheels. He said we were quite welcome to buy the Allen keys but if we wanted he could fix it properly.

He produced a different tool and re-set the screw so that the wheels would not wobble off again. He was able to properly fix the scooter but we bought the set of Allen keys anyway. On our two-week trip the paths in many old towns, castles and forts all had cobblestones. We checked the wheels along the way but fortunately never had the need to use the new set of Allen keys.


Readers comments (2)

Great story and what a great way to meet the locals in a real way. Finland land of the Allen key. Or is it an Olljen key?

However, I do hope there are enough practical alternative routes to the cobblestone streets for residents.

Thanks Ingrid. Yes there did seem to be many accessible areas and routes for residents. However most of the tourist sites were very old and had cobblestones. The most accessible area for both tourists and residents was the Helsinki ferry terminal and the large ferries. Maureen

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