Much has been written about detailing track on your layout to replicate the prototype. The one thing that I have not seen too often is that there is a basic pattern to the ties. Railroads developed standards for track gangs to build to or maintain the track. The standards established consistency for the railroad. I have only seen a few different railroad standards books. You can access the Northern Pacific standards online and the Pennsylvania Railroad as well.
In reviewing both the NP and SP books, I found that they are nearly identical. They specified tie spacing based upon the purpose of the track. Mainline track had closely spaced ties while yard or industrial leads would be more widely spaced. Another detail to consider is the fact that steam era track had tightly spaced ties where the joints occurred. Rail in the steam era was made in 30′, 33′ and 39′ lengths. It appears that the larger rail was made in 39′ lengths and the shorter lengths for lighter rail.
I built my tie jig for branchline main with 33′ rail length. The tie spacing is 25.5″ between ties except at the rail joints. The ties are spaced at 18″ under the joints. I used plastic to build my jig. It was quick to build and flexible if the ties need to be coaxed out of the slots. I marked the centerline of the ties with a pencil and straight edge. It is easy to align the tie centers and the roadbed centerline.
My railroad will use three different rail sizes (Code 125, Code 100 and Code 82). The Code 82 was sourced from England and was made for Karlgarin. It represents #56 rail. The other sizes were made by Right O’ Way of Chowchilla, CA.
Building your own track is very enjoyable. It allows you to create a unique statement of prototype accuracy.