My afore-promised late-December posting never materialized, mainly due to the holidays, a modeling side project in HO scale (chain link fence) and the arrival of a new child in our family. However, I did make some progress lately on laying down rail on the test track that I'll share here now.
I'm happy with the results thus far...The tie plates make a huge difference and the spike heads are not obtrusive. A few comments on each of those:
After testing both tie plates, the first from Jim Lincoln's Shapeways offerings and those from Monster Model Works, I found that I prefer the ones from MMW. The Shapeways ones look fine but are made from a brittle plastic that broke a few times while I was inserting it under some already spiked rail.
Speaking of spiking, I'm trying out the scale spikes from Proto:87 stores. Now, you're probably confused since this is a Proto:48 project, but they offer some longer and slightly larger ones that work for this scale too. For the first go-round, I picked the 0.120" long spikes. Let me tell you...They're tough to get off the frets and into pliers. The big disappointment here was they're too short to work well with the MicroMark spiking pliers (although the flat part below the groove on these pliers does work reasonably well for holding the spikes). I just recently ordered some of the 0.180" long ones, so hopefully they'll be easier to drive. Regardless, at four spikes per tie, handlaying track this way is going to take a long time...
Joint bars (L-shaped, as observed on the prototype) were ordered from Bill Brillinger's Precision Design Company and I expect them here soon, so that'll be the next update along with finishing touches for weathering.