I just finished the first run of ballasted track work on the layout.  Micro Engineering code 40 was used as the basis.  Every fifteenth tie or so was removed and a pc tie soldered in place for stability.  Once this was done, I took a number 11 blade and shaved all of the spike heads off to improve appearance and flange clearance.  Ties were air brushed with light gray acrylics and then stained with burnt umber artist oils followed by an india ink wash.  The rail was air brushed with burnt umber.