Look in the 'Weathering & Detailing Models' Forum, on Page-2
Topic - 'Weathering Hand Laid Track' in Post-5
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Really quite simple.
I use balsa for ties as it is soft before finishing.
I scrape the full length of a strip of balsa and then cut into tie lengths.
I use an exacto to further distress the ends for splits etc.
I glue them down with white glue.
After the glue has set I paint them with artists acrylic raw umber.
Then dry brushed with white.
Rails are glued in place with Walthers Goo (contact cement).
I add spikes but mostly for appearance only.
Rail sides are painted with Model Master acrylic Rust.
Finally rails are dry brushed with raw sienna.
I find that after paint and ballast glue etc the balsa ties are plenty strong.