Started laying track. I settled on slightly aged ties and rails showing rust on the sides but shiny on top. The ties are bare wood, no creosote, and are aged grey with some raised grain. When I first added grain and stained the ties I was disappointed, thinking that all the effort wasn't worth it. Now a month or so later I came back to it and am pleased with the result. I'm laying down track on the test track/time saver before moving on to the layout. I wanted to develop the technique and work out the bugs since this is my first effort at laying track.
That is great looking track work. I sure like the look of those FastTracks turnouts. If I were to handlay track again, I would bite the bullet and spend the bucks for their turnout tools.
Even brand new rail is going to be brown to reddish brown everywhere but on top. I can't imagine laying any kind of track, handlaid or commercial, without painting the rail.
On my handlaid track I cut the ties from whatever is handy. On the now defunct On30 layout I had a supply of western red cedar. A light staining with india ink diluted in alcohol gave a nice effect of weathered, untreated, ties.
I am having some struggles with that on my HO layout. On the On30 it was easy because it was all handlaid, I spray painted the rail before laying it. I am using all commercial track on the HO layout (and not entirely sure it was the best approach). I laid the flex track and now am going back and painting the rail. It is tedious and not turning out like I hoped.
I think the next stretch of track will be spray painted (yep, ties and all) prior to being laid.