STEAM events are usually outdoors and in summer. The Echtdampf-Hallentreffen, organized by Messe Sinsheim, takes place in the middle of winter in the halls of the Karlsruhe exhibition centre in Germany.  For the 16th time, steam modellers from all over the world will be coming together for the iconic steam engine meeting from January 13 to 15, 2012.

With more than 1000 exhibitors from Germany, England, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Sweden and even Japan, it is the world’s largest event of its kind. Over 6,000 metres (almost four miles) of track are laid out, on which countless locomotives and trains run continuously. Stationary steam machines, steamships on the boat pool and steam-driven road vehicles are all to be found.

20,000 visitors

Arcane technology comes to life as visitors to the show are drawn into the unique atmosphere of the event. For more than 20,000 visitors Echtdampf-Hallentreffen is an important date in the calendar.

Every steam engine or model at the show is of interest. Some models are unique. For example, Marcel Brunner from Switzerland will present an extraordinary loco in 5 inch gauge loco with lateral drive and universal joints.
Norbert Westphal will also be bringing  the world’s only known model of a Robert William Thomson road steamer (above).
There is also a display of extraordinary 45mm gauge locomotives by Hannes Bieri and his friends, the Rocky Mountain Steamers from Switzerland. Among others their models include a Shay-Willamette, Climax Bug, Climax and Porter (above).

World’s largest layout

Hall 2 of the show will be filled with the world’s largest indoor 5 inch and 7¼ inch combined track layout. The 6,000 metres of track will be laid out as in the diagram below, and the impressive layout brought to life with three working turntables, a goods yard, true to scale town houses, a roundabout, four transfer tables on the 5 inch track and one on the combined 5 and 7¼ inch layout. Numerous steam locomotives will be circling the tracks and staging true to life activities, shunting and coupling, loading and unloading, so that there is always plenty going on for visitors to watch.

There are also workshops where visitors can try their hand at steam modelling. Model railway club Eisenbahnfreunde, Bad Schönborn, will demonstrate hot air engines. The Westerwälder Dampfeisenbahn railway club offers visitors the chance to learn about making joints in steam modelling, such as pressure, welding, rivetting and soldering. The workshops are free of charge and can be attended without prior registration. The youngest visitors to the steam meeting can take part in a kiddies’ workshop where they will learn how to build a cardboard jumping-jack figure, Klettermax, which they can take home with them.

Prize draw

It is well worth taking part in the great prize draw for visitors. With a bit of luck you can win a trip on the Furka Mountain Railway in Switzerland, or a romantic outing in an Aagland carriage. In addition there will be numerous other prizes.

The 16th Indoor Steam Engine Meeting Echtdampf-Hallentreffen takes place at the Karlsruhe Trade Fair Centre (Messe Karlsruhe) from January 13 to 15, 2012.

The iconic Karlsruhe steam event 
by D Zimmermann