MODELING: Super Track

You probably all have heard the old saw about “track is a model too”. It is a concept practiced by a few modelers but should be worthy of consideration for more in the Proto48 community. We are fortunate to have a wide range of products available to aid and abet the process of modeling track.

Building detailed and accurate track is not difficult but should start with a study of the prototype. There are many resources available to research what real railroad track looks like or looked like for a period of time. Practices used by today’s railroads may not be the same as was used in 1950s. Even ballast color and type may have changed.

One of the key suppliers in our scale is Right O’Way of Clovis, California. Jay Criswell has assembled a company that offers a wide range of track products ranging from flextrack to tie plates, spikes, rail and switch hardware. He has the complete line of Right O’Way, American Switch & Signal, Red Cliffs Miniatures, Protocraft track parts and even Chooch brass trucks.

A source of information that is very helpful are Mike Cougill’s books on constructing detailed track. You can check out his offerings at OST Publications . Mike had done some incredible work on realistic trackwork as part of his diorama.

I want to share with you some of Scott Spears work in building very realistic track. He has been using Karlgarin Models Code 82 rail which is approximately 56 pound iron. The beauty of this rail is that it is scaled for 1/4″ as opposed to HO rail with a narrow base. A shortcoming of using this product is the lack of tie plates and switch details. Scott fixed that problem by doing a 3D design and print of the needed parts. He was able to get a few copies printed by Shapeways before they flagged the file as a problem. Maybe he might find time to fix the file to make these parts available to others.

The image above was taken by Scott of his diorama featuring the light rail and track hardware. Oh by the way, the chain link fence is “killer”. I love the vegetation growing on it.

I find that the realism of his trackwork is stunning. I think that the delicate look of the spikes and tie plates foster the feel of the prototype. By the way, the spikes are sold by the P87 Store. They are made from etched metal and very very close to scale. Of course, outdoor lighting goes a long way towards creating the look.

Scott Spears rounds out his diorama with a very nice vignette of a minimal engine facility.

While Scott’s work is with Code 82 rail and hardware, you can use Code 100 and 125 Right O’Way rail and track parts to achieve a similar look.

I would like to thank Scott for sharing images of his modeling. Hopefully, it might interest readers to try their hand at building some super track.


15 thoughts on “MODELING: Super Track

  1. Very nice stuff Gene, and kudos to Scott on his fine diorama. I am just getting back into RR modeling, and agree on the track, as well as everything else, being a part of the model and should be given the same attention to detailing. Having said all that, I wonder about the photo that leads off your post here- again, as a starting over newbie, those “ties”, in my opinion, don’t look like they merit the 3 spike and plate treatment, but they could be replacements that were the only thing available at the time.
    And, should not the fact that continuous rail, (flex track in scale), was not in existence until a certain period, factor into the modeling of certain era track? I am sure that, flex track, could be used, and still be modeled to reflect a certain period, by filing joint gaps atop the rail at the proper intervals, join plates with detail added, etc.

    • John
      Flextrack can be detailed by cutting thin notches in the rail head and the addition of joiner bars. Try creating more realism by brush painting the ties with gray and brown tones.

  2. Gene, I too, must thank you for the shout out! I do appreciate you taking the time to do so. One of the most important things to do is to strive for improvement. I spend a lot of capitol trying to do just that. Often times it goes unnoticed or develops way too slowly. I’ll keep trying to improve what we offer. Seeing the quality of Scott’s modeling raises the bar for all of us. James Lincoln too..

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