Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Technique: Quick Cobbles

Cobbled yards are quite easy to do when you know how. The delighful little loco here was loaned by Tim Maddocks, see his website at www.enginewood.co.uk
There are lots of ways to do cobbles; many use embossed plastic sheet, which is fine but cutting out sections to the correct shape to bed in neatly around curved track is far from easy and of course you have the problem of hiding joins. Others use plaster or Das modelling clay, let it set and then have the long job of handscribing  - this could take several weeks even for just to do a few square inches.

Or you can use this method which is quick, easy and ensures a degree of sanity can remain in this already loopy hobby of ours.

First add a layer of Das modelling clay; if the surface is smooth, paint on a little white glue first to help the clay adhere. Use a beer bottle (drink the contents first if you like, or save to the end as a reward) to roll the clay into place if it helps.

Fingers and a stiff brush can also be used to pummel the clay into place. Don't do too big an area in one go because the clay will set, time depending on whether you're here in the UK in a cold damp shed at the bottom of the garden or in California in a tin roofed garage. Do a test first to see what suits you and your environment.

Where the clay butts up against the track, keep it a little lower than the rail head (approx 1mm), this will make cleaning the track easier and will minimise the chance of damaging the cobbles with a track rubber.

Next use a ball point pen with the writing bit removed. Just press the tip into Das modelling clay lots of times. The area here which is around 6 by 6 inches (15cm) took around 10-15 minutes.

Then when set (overnight), spray paint black (Halfords auto spray is good) then drybrush on lighter stone coloured tones, beige, grey, cream using your favourite hobby paint.

This whole area (3ft x 18 inches) was about 3 hours work including the painting (not including the overnight Das drying time).

Open another beer.....


  1. Superb technique there! Now if someone could invent a pen that was perfectly sized to random stone blocks.... :)

    1. pull the bristles out of an old brush and use the square metal bit

  2. Fantastic plan. What sort of depth is the DAS clay? I have an area to cobble on my O gauge layout, but guess i should build the area up with balsa or card before using the clay.

  3. Great idea. I saw, once, in a hobby magazine someone did something similar using balsa wood and the back end of a pencil with the eraser taken out. the metal collar of the eraser was a bit mishapen (maybe he liked to chew on his pencil, don't know) but the lack of regularity helped the project--maybe he was trying to simulate wood tiles.
    Keep writing, I will keep following.

  4. How do you do the 4'. . between the rails keeping a neat edge and away from the track? Kevin.hooper100@virginmedia.com

  5. How do you do the 4'. . between the rails keeping a neat edge and away from the track? Kevin.hooper100@virginmedia.com

  6. I am in the middle of 4.5 square feet of "cobbling" on my new O gauge layout. I built up the area with offcuts of ply. Do not think 1 large packet will be enough.


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