For my railroad, I decided to go with Walthers/Shinohara turnouts and Micro-Engineering Code 83 flextrack. Both products are of a very high quality and both look great. I carefully laid the track ensuring that everything was level and transitions between sections of rail were smooth. This is particularly important for switching layouts as train speed is slow and cars are parked almost anywhere. Having to deal with constant de-railing or a runaway car spotted on a small hill can be a major pain.
To enhance the look of the track and make it look old and worn, I used an Xacto knife to beat up the occasional tie and split tie ends here and there. For the yard and industrial sidings, I removed many of the ties and spaced the remaining ties further apart to help give it the impression of lighter rail and differentiate it from the mainline.
Next up, I'll be super-detailing the track by adding scale rail joints every 39 feet to better simulate the real thing. It's been a lot of work so far, but it should be really great when complete!
- When soldering rail joiners or wire to track, DON'T hold the iron against the tracks too long. You will melt ties and distort the metal track. (learned that the hard way)
- Hold your breath while soldering. That smoke that rises up into your face is hot and gross and will cause real damage to your lungs.
- Using an official NMRA gauge and a car equipped with fine-scale wheel sets help ensure that your trackwork is clean and free of trouble spots which could cause derailments.