Muldoon’s Distillery

Another model from Master Creations, this one an Irishman’s distillery circa 1890s/1900s. Released in 1991, I bought this version – with motor and lights – in 1992. 30 years I’ve been dragging this around.

I finally got this …

(Wish I had bought a few more kits in that time period – this is my last remaining major structure from that era. Some are still available after-market, but they are not cheap.)

Kit Box Label

 But I can’t build a kit as intended – it needs to be tweaked – and maybe re-purposed.

 *  *  *  *  *

Opening the box – too many goodies for one photo

Electronic stuff (circa 1991), cast metal fittings, laser cut wood, a motor, misc wire, fibre, & stuff


Some of the wood sheets – I believe I saw 1 or 2 pieces of stripwood but most trim is laser cut.


Thin stuff 

I didn’t care for the green of the prototype model – so I went with Red Oxide in a wash using about 2 drops acrylic paint and 2 eyedroppers water or so …

Modified the 2nd coat proportions: 4 drops Red Oxide, 1 drop medium/dark brown, 6 eyedroppers of water.

MasterCreations embossed nail holes and board outlines. “Painting” would have covered this but two coats wash isn’t enough to “dull down” the embossing and make the structure appear as if it had been painted. I’ll wait until sub-assemblies come together, add one or two more coats of wash, and see what we shall see.

 Maybe a wash of alcohol with the paint – alcohol won’t warp the wood as much … but I didn’t think to check first.

In any case, wall bracing is a good idea. I had some scrap stripwood laying around – about 1/4″ x 5/16?

I wash the inside of the walls to loosen the fibres (allowing opposite warping) and dry the warp with glue and bracing.
Here I have the front and trackside walls weighted down flat on a sheet of 1/4″ plate glass.

Probably about 6# on the left, a couple of 1-2-3 blocks, a plate of 3/8″ steel, and a lire of alcohol; a bit more weight on the right – a laminated iron core power transformer. Let that sit a bit.

I’m not sure of the footprint of this structure. The instructions are well-written but leave out a few things. Reads like an engineer that knew what he was writing about – forgetting to mention some things that someone not knowing should know. For example, the parts numbering system neglects to label parts that are “identifiably unique”. There are a number of unlabeled, identifiably unique parts in this kit. There are no patterns and only poor pictures with the kit – pretty pictures for sales, not construction.

Anyway, one of the first instructions calls out finding two pieces of wall by number – both unlabeled. Make sure the arrows line up and glue together.

Looking at sheets A & C, which two pieces? What arrows?

I popped all the parts and figured it out. I think.

 *  *  *  *  *

Later the next day …

The sides are well braced and flat (except the one side I overlooked the night before – being braced here).

These structure will be partially assembled before the next coat or two of color is added.

The first step was to splice two sections of the trackside wall, seen here as the lower right assembly.

After setting up overnight, the front and trackside walls are joined at 90°.

Using a medium-sized carpenter’s square and weights, the two wall sections are joined together via the wall tabs and pushed firmly against the square. The walls are clamped and weighted down.

And a night passes by …

The main structure has somewhat of a squat “L” shape, dividing the building into two sections. Following the above clamping method, 3 walls of each component are formed and braced to assure the 90° sections stay 90° sections.

The next step it to align and join the two sections of the back wall then add the filler section between the front wall of the main building and the loading dock wall of the auxiliary section.

 *  *  *  *  *

A few more steps for which I neglected to take photos and the primary structure is close enough to completion to begin planning “the scene”.

This is necessary at this stage because the next steps for the model begin to add delicate details – the model should be mounted which requires the scene to be prepared.

Consider the model as intended:

I don’t want this to necessarily be a distillery; some generic manufacturing structure is what I have in mind.

I don’t wish to utilize the water wheel either. I’ll save that for another structure.

The model is intended to slightly overhang a drop-off to a creek (I guess) or some sort of flowing water for the power wheel.

The building itself is all on a single level – the model has the foundation exposed at different depths.

I could construct the scene on a single level … with or without the included stone foundation.

I could utilize the multi-layer – utilize what would be the gear house into a storage bin to load into gondolas on a lower level.

This being the front of the building, a road of some sort is called for.

Is this a spur track or siding? (Certainly not a main line). Does the track cross the scene? Cross a road?

Like the intended model, does the front “end” there or does a road pass by?

If a road passes by, does it cross the lower tracks (or road? or not there?) on level or by bridge?

How about scene edges?

To this point, the muse has not yet spoken …

One potential scenario has additional rock restraining walls. The metal walls (with nice feature detail) are brushed with soapy water then encased in silicon sealer. I’m told this is an acceptable way to make plaster molds. I tried a couple last night and they seemed to turn out OK – here I’m going for a full set.

These are nice walls – it would be nice to have a set of molds for later use. Needs to be done before the walls are prepared for the model … and the model can’t be mounted until the foundation is in place.

So here I call it a night for now.

 *  *  *  *  *

Further details to the structure – loading docks, etc – need to be added “in place” which requires the topology to be defined and the foundation to be laid out. Nothing fastened down just yet – simply working out the specific element locations.

But in doing so, I realize I had forgotten one important element – this is an active model – I need to place the electronic control assembly somewhere at the edge of the diorama for access to power connection and programming switches.

Should have done this several steps ago … and should have taken a photo or two while I was working this.

The area is cut out – under the tracks and road at the front of the diorama.

The PCB in place. Regulator over-heating can be an issue with these types of circuits (circa 1991) so I added a small strip of thermal transfer material (intended for use with a TO3 package) to the back of the original heat sink. Both heat sinks were greased up.

The control switches are at the front of the board left of center. The ribbon cables go from the connectors at the extreme left, fold over themselves and be placed in a trench yet to be dug to under the structure where the lighting wires will be further routed when time.

The power connector will go underneath the PCB and a thin support sheet will hold the scenery above the open space.

Would have been much easier and straight-forward had I remembered to do this at the time I mounted the first foam layer.

Wulda, shulda, coulda.


 *  *  *  *  *

Apparently I’ve been negligent in keeping this documentation up to date. As of this writing … progress is far beyond this first picture.

Mounting the PCB – the mounts are in place.

PCB mounted; routing of cabling

The cover-up

Playing with topology

Time to add the base side framing. This will define the ground level.

There’s been a lot of work on the diorama base – necessary in order to size and space details and trim. The final level of scenic ground cover “sinks” the structure into the “ground”.

The main roof is intended to be removable; it won’t be in this version.

Here the roof is mounted to the support frame.

Several of the various roofs are “corrugated iron” sheets. Actually (shiny) aluminum – not much more than thick foil – the sheets are prepared before installation. The base color is a light-medium gray with a “soot” layer of black with some degree of “rust” in various densities across the sheet. The notches are 3′ markers. These strips will be cut and added to the structure as individual 3×7 sheets.

I’m not really fond of corrugated roofs for this era even if prototypical – I can’t say I like the look of these Al strips – even if I knew how to treat the raw Al properly. Probably acid (vinegar) etching or printed circuit board etching material.

A generic manufacturing facility. “Stuff” comes in the upper level; “product” in the form of something loaded into gondolas comes from an ore bin-type chute or a freight door.

The back-wall freight door is ready for mounting – in the area where the original model has a water wheel

Fitting pieces. The raw wood shed is a bit of a kit-bash – an outdoor fireplace was to go in this location. May have been “prototypical” but it looked out of place.

I’m calling the structure across the tracks a “scale house” and adding a “scale” section of track there.

The place where the water wheel – to the right – was to go is now a freight loading area. The piece of foam represents an as-yet undefined structure which will have a track-level loading dock

The side shed is tin-covered – the corrugated sheets are being added.

I understand there’s a company that provides paper corrugated sheets that are colored as metal. I may try that if I use corrugated material again – the aluminum pieces are too much trouble and tend to flake.

 *  *  *  *  *

The loading docks are being prepared and placed.

The original kit has decals for “Muldoon’s Distllery” … no problem but this is no longer a distillery. The creators of the kit burned “SIGN” into the side of the building. This was undesired so needed to be covered. The new sign rests near what will be the main entrance to the structure.

… and this is as far as progress has progressed to this time

 *  *  *  *  *

Well, I’m back. Not much modeling in the past month or so – the most significant action was ordering some supplies. A bit of trouble with this site. I found out it looks different on a computer other than the one I use to fill pages with. I had been asked about uploading photos; that capability has been added through the Contact page.

[update: I’ve since removed that capability. Spam heaven which can be prevented – for a price – by the plugin developers. Easier to eliminate the capability altogether]

But I did get some fiddlin & faddlin in … here’s some photos.

Trackside hasn’t changed. Roofs aren’t fastened yet; cross-track “scale house” is not completed or fastened.

I added a corrugated tin sided shed to the side. I don’t care for this covering. Maybe it’s just me but the “look” usually is a distraction in my eyes. I’m going to order some paper corrugated roofing (and some shake shingles) from Wild West Models and give them a try …

This is the heavily modified side where the water wheel was to go. The tin shed is scratch-built using the model shed as a prototype. A freight door and loading chute have been added. A gantry crane is intended to move material between the processing floor and trackside loading dock.The tower has been added – needs another coat or two of stain when the trim is added to this side of the building.

The front of the structure. Other than the region where the water wheel was intended, this side is pretty much “stock”. The water tank goes on the roof; the new sign lies flat on the ground. The stairway down to track level is hinted at. The wires are for the lights – I’m a fair ways away from adding those.

I wonder if they work …

More yet to come

 *  *  *  *  *

… but it’s coming slowly.

I’ve gotten down to the detail trim level and some days, progress – if any – may come down to doing a single board.

After some period of time, “progress” appears thusly:

But actually, the scene is beginning to take on its finished appearance since this picture. I need to pull the camera out and take more in-progress photos.

I’m still undecided on the roofing. I don’t care for the corrugated roofing – I don’t care for the look, even if I could represent it well.

The use of corrugated roofing seems limited or almost non-existent in the world I model – it’s all fantasy anyway, eh?

So that leaves some sort of shingles or some form of tarpaper. Tarpaper is generally for low-end or quick-use shelter; a structure such as this would have a higher quality roof – shingles it is. Later; not ready for the main roofing just yet.

 *  *  *  *  *

Catching Up

Looking at the front side:
Trim is being added, the loading dock shed is board-by-board construction – the roof needs to be added. Various bits and pieces litter the yard – some not to be on the final diorama.

Track and Backside

The trim is about finished on trackside, windows and vent fan are in place; need to finish that to get to what I’ve taken to calling the scale house at the track dock. This area will be partially roofed over. By not thinking ahead, I placed a wall brace directly across the freight door opening … so the freight doors will be closed. Some props are added to allow me a feel of the final appearance. Final placement of objects needs to be completed before the scale house is added.

The backside is close to finished as well. I had considered a rear-side loading dock but went with the intended stairs. The corrugated tin structure is the original cross-track shed; there is no such structure there in the stock model. I disliked the tin look enough to put it on the back – but not so much as to discard it. An outdoor furnace/stove was to be placed in this vicinity.

This loading area was intended to be a water wheel structure; I didn’t feel like adding water to this diorama and I’d like to use the wheel on a grist mill model I’m thinking of … later. The freight doors, chute, deck, crane, and cross-track structure are “custom”; the side door and porch are stock – the model calls this the “bent porch”. The dock shed has a tarpaper roof now. The coming water tank supports will go here – the tank itself being a bit above the roof edge.

The loading dock is nearing completion, the windows and vent fan have been added. At this point, I’m still considering the final appearance. A bit of “road dust” – material from the road – has been brushed on the side of the main building. Seems a bit heavy right now; it will be re-considered when weathering becomes the main task.

Flash lighting …

The back shed overhangs the cutbank a bit as does the load annex. The annex has a proper field stone foundation; the shed is on wooden supports. The stair stringers are laying about where they will be placed; the steps to the upper deck haven’t been constructed yet.

I’m still debating a partial roof over the gantry crane area but leaning away from that idea. The elevator tower needs another coat of paint, eh?

Another view. Probably not a magazine cover candidate …

And we come to the latest. The roofs have not been attached but the model comes together in one’s eye.

I’m at the point where lighting needs to be considered. The stock model comes with electrical fixtures – green industrial fixtures … appropriate in some places but not in this vision. I’d like to simulate pre-electrical lighting but perhaps pre-green shade electrical lighting is acceptable. I have some clear yellow paint I may try on some bulbs.

The result of this thinking about lighting means adding light boxes in appropriate areas. I chose to leave the freight doors partially open (they’re not in place yet in the photo) so I extended the internal flooring a bit, made a little “room” to enclose the area, and will have separate lighting on the dock, inside the door, and the 2nd floor. The two little dots just above the freight doors are pre-drilled for light fixtures. I may use one, but the other needs to be covered.

Roof work has not commenced; still too much handling to come yet.

 *  *  *  *  *

Progress! Of Sorts

As I swing around the structure finishing trim and touching up details, I’ve come to the upper trackside dock area. I’ve turned this into a “weigh” center with the intended shed now becoming a scale house. This area is covered so all detail work needs to be completed while access is still possible.

That includes adding the dock lights.

This kit included 1990-era grain-of-rice 1.5V incandescent bulbs and control board. Like many of MasterCreations instructions, the words don’t always match the reality of parts on the table. There are instructions for programming with drawings but the drawings don’t match the control board. I didn’t bother reverse-engineering the board so the programming is set as it came from MasterCreations.

The leads were likely insulated – this might be #40 wire so it’s hard to tell without damaging the part – but I coated them … except the ends … with an acrylic primer.

Didn’t realize how out of focus this image was until it was too late to re-take the photo

Wiring the front entry. This will be out of sight when complete. The lamp leads are wired to the control board with the leads hanging in air. The bulb protrudes into the enclosed area (which will be painted black when the wire is fastened with hot glue) lighting the front windows.

These bulbs will light the upper scale area … which was the area causing the need to add lighting at this stage

No photos at this point, but the remaining bulbs are wired in preparation for placement. Lighting will be discussed later on …

 *  *  *  *  *

The First Major Change

I had been unhappy with the choice of standard gauge since not long after I started fastening things down. The inappropriateness of this choice became so obvious that changes were needed. The icing was on the cake when I test fit a standard gauge boxcar. Although I mislaid the track with an offset of about 2 scale feet, the dock – built as intended – was at the wrong height for a standard gauge car but is just right for narrow gauge.

I lucked out. Even though fastened with glue firmly set, I was able to pull the track with minimal damage

The replacement narrow gauge track set for placement.

Work progresses … slowly.

I’ve spent more time tweaking the model than keeping up with this journal. The following pictures are those taken along the construction progress.

As trashy as any construction scene … starting to add details to the front – but much more to do

The section most kit-bashed. This region was intended to be the waterwheel/powerhouse; now a standard gauge freight-transfer structure with gantry crane. As this scene develops, a means of reaching the dock was needed; a ramp was constructed.

This is the intended rail access. Discussed earlier, originally built as standard gauge, narrow gauge felt “more to scale”.

The sign and front door at this stage are intended to show “wear” but I’m not happy with this; seems to be open to repainting.

Need decals for the sign – this isn’t “Muldoon’s Distillery” anymore but the word “sign” is burnt into siding or I’d leave this sign off. Since some sign is needed, I need to think of the wording. The intended decals are not suitable for “bashing” so “something” else is needed. I can hold off on fixing the sign in place.

This shed was originally meant to be the trackside shed, but I don’t care for the corrugated siding and I didn’t care for the intended outside furnace … or the blank wall that would be here if I left the furnace off.

The shed roof is fastened; the back deck roof is still loose.

Not quite completion, but beginning to look it.

Time passes …

 *  *  *  *  *

The lights have been installed. They operate on a fast clock but the controller is poorly documented; I’ve left the control switches in the default state but I haven’t mapped the lighting sequence. In this view, the freight deck and interior lights are still off.

I used the original 1990 lighting kit; there are better options available today but I’ll defer incorporating those methods until a later model.

Not complete but close enough to get a feel for the final appearance.

View of the back side

Another view of the scale house area

One of the remaining tasks to be completed is stair and deck railings. Using a square to try and keep 90degree angles, I start by cutting the rails to the desired length and gluing the end posts in position. Adding the inner posts is easier from this point.

Glue first or paint first?


In real time – status as I write this – it’s getting on time to begin adding landscaping details.

 *  *  *  *  *

A little tweaking here, a little poking there … and I start to think about scenery.

I like the forested effect suggested by the kit photos.

 *  *  *  *  *

I’ve shingled the roof sections and applied the base stain coats. There are two bases for the shingles: the laser-cut sticky white sheets and the “shopping bag” Campbell brown paper shingles. I wanted a slightly different look for the two major sections of the building.

The roof sections are intended to be removable. The interior isn’t detailed and if the lights burn out – they’re over 30 yo before they were turned on – then they burn out.

I think I’ll permanently fasten the roof sections; I think the final appearance will be improved. Structural integrity will be.

The next episode should show the roofs in place … so the plan says right here …

 *  *  *  *  *

Sometime later …

The best laid plans …

Multi-tasking is one word for it – sounds more pleasant than “running around like a chicken with its head cut off” which is probably closer to the truth.

Progress has been sporadic and slow – yesterday I pre-colored 6 boards. That was it. Not worth a post.

But now enough “6 boards” have been done to update this progress report.

It’s at least pre-scenery time – the structure and elements need to be blended into the scenery … which is easiest to do by placing the scenery before the structure is “done”.

The scenic elements divide fairly nicely into three areas: 1) the narrow gauge track to the diorama edge; 2) the region between the two tracks, i.e., the structure front and back, wagon-loading areas, back lot; and 3) the standard gauge dock and transfer crane.

I’m working primarily area 1 at the moment with some spill-over into area 2.

The back side of the scale house is still mostly in “wild” state; other than constructing the building, there’s been no need to access the back very often – it’s become a it overgrown.

One thing I neglected early on was coloring the plaster. When drilling tree holes and the like, the white “dust” spreads with the bit. Easy enough to suck up with a vacuum – even easier to not need to.

 *  *  *  *  *

Once again, I neglected to take photos along the way.

An “in-progress” shot. This is the structure at the moment. The “main” roof, overhang, and scale house roofs are fastened down in this image. The cupolas are obviously still loose. The gray-ish pieces are intended to be lead flashing; photos are a good way to see flaws but I knew they needed more work.

The shingle coloring difference isn’t as noticeable “for real”. I’m not happy with the shingles anyway.

Laser-cut/printed or “cut paper bag” shingles. I don’t care for corrugated tin (and it appears to be of a later period than I model.).

Shingles and/or tarpaper it is. Need to find another source for shingles; this is too much for laying down individually – but that would be the best method. Need to trim the lead flashing …

This region will be “forested” – or what was left after cutting for the scale house. The white spots are future tree locations. permanent placement comes later but I need to lay the base cover down and blend the structure.

The white area to the right is a road; the sandier areas are loading and back lot. The back lot will be filled with clutter and outhouse.

Coming along; not there yet.

Placing trees to get a flavor of spacing and final appearance.

Close to the vision for the narrow gauge side.

As I write this, the “new” roof has been placed and weighted – the glue is setting.

Tomorrow I’ll get to see how crooked it is.

“Everything fits until the glue is applied

Good for now …


It’s a wrap.

I fell down regarding “documenting” this build … too much life in the way combined with “progress” in bits and pieces – glue these two boards in place; come back a day or so later to glue another few items.

I didn’t take pictures or keep notes during these spits and spurts of modeling.

So it goes; the project is “finished” (aside from preparation for its new home).

I forgot to get a “night” picture with the lights on.

Final Views

The narrow gauge dock (obstructed) and “front” side.

The “back” side.

Standard gauge docks

“Drone” view of the back side and standard gauge dock.

Not a distillery …


Muldoon’s Distillery 2

Another model from Master Creations, this one an Irishman’s distillery circa 1890s/1900s. Released in 1991, I bought this version – with motor and lights – in 1992. 30 years I’ve been dragging this around.

There’s a “build blog” on this model with the following views of the final result

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