After my most recent hand laid track project using P:87 tie plates I was struck by the fineness of the plates themselves. Others have asked me about this as well. Rightly so. I had two choices, paint the rail a lighter color to highlight the tie detail or paint it the darker color it actually is. I decided to go with accuracy and went with a darker color. As I feared the darker color essentially causes the details of the plates to be lost in the shadows.
Even so, I do view this approach as a success. It’s successful from the standpoint of what you DON’T see. You don’t see the oversize spikes and the total absence of tie plates that is the problem with typical hand laid track. As much as I like Micro Engineering track and it’s finer detail, even those spikes appear a bit large in photos.