Suggestion; to Paint Your Rail before Ballasting:

Size/Code/Scale of Model Rail:

More than a little discussion has been seen on these pages regarding the rail code/size/scale of model track different folks might prefer to use! With many preferring the smaller code rail as being more “realistic”. Now while I cannot fault them on that, I myself tend to approach my modeling more from the direction of the visual impact a given effect is going to create. Therefore if there is a way to make your rail look smaller, regardless of code/size/scale then that is to be desired.

Shown here is Code 83 rail in HO Scale

Painting the sides of the rails diminishes the apparent visual size of your model rail no matter what code/size/scale you may be running. Here I simply sprayed the entire piece of track with the Tamiya Red Oxide Primer (Rust) and then went back over it all with a blotchy, randomly applied coat of the Nulin Oil black shader. Finally when dry I burnished the tops of the rail with my abrasive track cleaning block. **

When I started in HO (MANY years ago) code 100 was all we had so I was determined then to reduce the visual impact of the overly large rail and to draw the viewer’s eye away from this bright, shiny distraction to what rightfully should be the center of attention: the model train.

** p.s. I also go over just about any/all plastic parts with a final coat of Matte Clear to kill any plastic or paint shine (Tamiya Matte Clear TS-80 in the rattle can.)


A similar but slightly different bridge currently under construction:
Same track treatment.


It is amazing how a little paint completely changes the appearance of the rail.

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Been doing this since the 1980’s with most all my track, regardless of scale.
Be careful around your switch points but other than that it has never seemed to affect operation.

A small section of Code 100 painted brass display track I did maybe 30-40 years ago:

And another short display section of painted Code 83 Nickel-Silver track:

Some Dragon Military Scale (1/35th) diorama trackage done just a few years ago.
(Plastic rail head painted silver.)

Close up:

Trumpeter Military Scale plastic painted trackage used as bridge track, done just recently:

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Another bridge I am working on, here with just a quick spray coat of red oxide for the rails and ties and then a black wash over the ties.

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Some fresh HO track. Sprayed all over with Tamiya Red Oxide Primer in the rattle can. The ties were then given a straight out of the bottle wash of Citadel Nulin Oil (their name for Black.)

Note how the woodgrain in the ties seems to have “raised up” after washing in black.

Finally the railheads were polished with my track cleaning abrasive burnishing block.

And some bridge trackage with a similar treatment: