How do you create prototypically accurate track?

Do you want track that looks as good as the rest of your modeling? The first step is to study full-size track like you would any other modeling subject. Put your preconceptions away and really look. There’s a wide range of color, textures and details to see.

The long time conversation about track has focused on the mechanics of getting it down and eliminating derailments, rather than modeling the visual aspects. The advice offered is excellent but for the most part, producing smooth track isn’t that hard. Sadly though, the traditional advice to paint the rails brown or grimy black with touches of muddy color here and there, doesn’t cut it in a modeling culture that can recite the differences between boxcar end panels or modern diesel production phases. Like these examples, there’s a lot more to consider about track.

Take ballast for example. Was track ballasted and structured differently in the steam era? Can we model this difference?

We understand that geography and traffic impact the color of track but does era play a role? In a word: yes. Tons of cinders from locomotive stacks, brine drippings from ice cooled refrigerator cars and other era specific factors contributed to a different look than what we’re used to today.

Notice the difference in the ballast texture.

Notice the oily film on this mainline.

You have a lot of choices for track and it’s your decision for what’s best for your needs. There’s no denying that today’s flex track can look pretty good if you take time to do some simple enhancements. In the right situations, it’s a good alternative and time saver.

Commercial turnouts are mechanically sound but come up short visually. The thing that detracts from their appearance for me is the rigid geometry and lack of detail. They also come in a very limited number of sizes forcing you to use the same frog number for widely different track situations. It’s the trade-off you make for speed and ease of getting track down.

There’s More Than Mechanics To Good Track
For truly custom track, nothing beats hand laid and creating mechanically sound track that looks like the prototype is what Detailing Track is all about. With nine chapters spread over 125 pages, you get a comprehensive guide to modeling track.

Whether you choose to hand lay or not, you don’t have to settle for generic looking track. This book shows you how to look at track and model it effectively with techniques you can apply in any scale. You’ll have track that’s mechanically sound and looks even better. To start modeling track that looks like track, click the button and head over to the OST Store to get your copy.