Finescale modeling in 1:48

Detailing Track

OST Publications

Track is a system, and more.

There is romance in two rails stretching off to the horizon that captures the hearts of many. Up close, there is a wealth of colors and textures to enjoy. There is the sound of metal popping in the heat and groaning of wooden ties under enormous loads. Track is all of these things and more.

I enjoy modeling track. The process is relaxing to me and time fades away when working. Of all the things this craft offers, modeling track well is the most satisfying.

Choosing To Handlay: The Gorilla In The Room
I’m well aware that many people find hand laid track labor intensive and time consuming. Placing four spikes per tie as I do, is a herculean task that isn’t for the faint of heart or those who lack the patience and persistence to see the job through.

Right-O-Way turnout rail braces, head rod details

An N scale ground throw from Caboose Industries works perfectly for P48

Right-O-Way turnout rail braces, head rod details

Modeling track well offers a wealth of opportunity to grow as a modeler.

Modeling track.

If speed or doing things easily is your main goal then commercial track and turnouts are the better option for you. With care in assembly and attention to painting and weathering, ready-to-lay track can look good and perform well.

The reasons to handlay track are personal such as near total design freedom and the ability to pick your level of detail. As seen in the images here, I carry my track all the way to the end because I’ve wanted to model with this level of detail for decades. Also, if I’m going to put in this much effort then skimping on these details seems a waste of time. There is a pride of workmanship and a profound sense of accomplishment in completing track of this quality.

Finescale standards shine best at turnouts and make scale flangeways of track in pavement possible.

A key with any scale or standard is to know what you want and the extent you are willing to compromise to get there. P48 is as much a mindset as a set of standards. 

This is just a quick overview. I have a number of books and blog posts on laying and detailing track. Whether you choose to try handlaying or not, the resources below will help you get going. With the exception of OST books, these are not affiliate links. Since I build my own turnouts I have no experience with the custom builders. They are recommended by others and the work looks top notch.


Selected Posts from the OST Blog
Modeling Oil Soaked Track
One of the most popular posts on the blog.

Working with O scale Tieplates
Be aware the prices quoted in this ten year old post are very out dated, though the techniques still apply.

Books by OST Publications

Detailing Track book by Mike Cougill

Detailing Track

A complete guide to hand laying, detailing  and weathering track in quarter-inch scale.

24.95 + 10.60 Flat Rate Priority shipping.

Detailing Track book by Mike Cougill
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This ebook covers the differences between modern and steam era track. Trevor Marshall outlines his decisions for the track on his former Port Rowan layout and I review the lessons learned from years of modeling track.

This is an ebook that is downloaded after purchasing.

9.99 with immediate download

Additional Resources

Track Supplies
A broad range of quarter-inch scale track details, frog and point castings, ties, rail and code 125 P48 flex track.

Built to Order Custom Turnouts
O Scale Turnouts
Handlaid turnouts to order in both five-foot legacy guage and P48.

Signature Switch Company
Offers a wide range of custom turnouts built to order.