Lehigh Valley Bethlehem Tower - Conversion from the Standard Tower kit offered
by the Anthracite Railroads Historical Society

The kit boxtop showing the standard Lehigh Valley Railroad Tower A picture of the Bethlehem Tower taken by Tom Ringo in 1967

This is a fine kit of the standard Lehigh Valley tower. I model the 3 railroad bridges across the Lehigh River at Bethlehem and the tower should sit right next to them on my layout, but until this model came out, I would have had to scratch build it. I bought the kit 2 years ago but until now it has sat unbuilt in my cabinet, It was such a nice kit (and expensive) that I couldn't bring myself to start it.

Once I decided to to go ahead and build it, I realized that even though it is made from the original plans, there are differences between it and the actual Bethlehem Tower (no longer standing). I thought about whether I should go ahead and cut up a $71.00 dollar kit. But after due consideration (overnight), I decided that I would not be happy with with it unless I made the changes. Here is a list of the changes I made:

1. On the V3 (long) side, I had to close up the door opening becuse the door would be moved to the V4 (narrow) side.
2. Move the attached storage shed to the oposite narrow end by cutting the shed from V1 and V3 (long sides) and reattaching them on the opposite sides.
3. Add a door to the middle of V4 (narrow side) between the outer windows.
4. The stairs must be moved from the V3 (long side) to the V4 (narrow side) above the shed The stairs on the real tower were a straight run whereas on the model there is a short landing 3/4 of the way down.
5. The very attractive overhang was almost completely gone by the time of my era (1965-1975) and the only piece left was over the small second story porch.
6. There was also a door on the track side at the corner that I missed until I was nearly done. I cut it in and used a door from my scrap box.

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This is a picture of the long wall that had it's door opening closed in on the second floor. It also shows the 2 permanant markers that I used along with dry brushing with light and dark grey paint. This shot shows the paint I used for dry brushing. A little goes a long way. This is the wall that the stairs ran along side of in the original kit.

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Here you can see the micro plywood used. The attached shed has to be moved to the other side of the building under the stairs. Here I am filling in the area where the door opening was closed off.

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I premarked and drybrused all the pieces before assembling. Once assembeled, I went backand did some touching up. I have just cut the shed loose from the building sides.

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The shed sides in their new location. Next the second story door opening must be cut between the windows on the narrow end.

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The door moved to it's new location on the narrow end over the shed. All 4 sides modified and ready to assemble.

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The building assembeled, but still the porch, stairs and roof shingles to be put on. Here is all that remained of the shingled overhang that once went around the whole tower.

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Looking closer at the picture of the real tower I noticed that I had missed a door at the corner of the track side. I cut an opening for this door from my scrapbox.

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The stairs in the kit had a small landing about 3/4 of the way down, but the Bethlehem Tower went straight down. I still have a little more filling to do around that new door.

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These final 3 shots show the tower almost complete. You can see the stairs modified to match Bethlehem. There is still some weathering to do with chalks, and it's location on the layout is not yet ready. I am now wondering bout maybe adding the Hill to Hill bridge at least part of it to my layout.We'll see.

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