I marked off the area where track was going to go, and added some layers of basic fine scenery base, just to dress-up the layout. Even just basic scenery makes things look better than raw construction materials.
I then drew out, with a permanent marker, where the edges of the ties are to go. The rectangular area in the foreground is the location of the Hazel Mine's tipple.
All in all, it took me three weeks of modeling time to lay all the ties. I put down 32 feet and 8 inches (just shy of 10 meters) worth of ties. That is 2,090 scale feet (or 0.4 scale miles). Based on my calculations, there should be around 1,250 ties in this photo!
A few more trees have been added. These were all leftover from my first S-scale layout. The tower was just a project I was working on for the Houston S Gaugers club, so I needed to put it somewhere for the time-being.
Before I can ballast the track, I decided to build the concrete foundations for the Hazel Mine tipple structure that will sit here. These are made out of squares of styrene glued together to form the desired height.
Next up was ballasting this area. I used a mixture of black and gray "Course Sand Granules" by Ashland, a brand owned by the Michael's crafts store (found in their floral section).
When that was dry, on March 10, 2018 I started hand-laying all of the rail. This is code 100 Micro Engineering rail. I used my track-gluing method for installing the rails on this layout, consisting of scratchbuilding individual tie plates, and using those to position and glue the rails to the ties. This method uses glue instead of spikes, and it has worked well for me.
Thanks to battery-powered engines, I can immediately test my trackwork, even with metal gauges across the rails.
Again, because of battery-powered engines, I can lay entire lengths of rail down without having to worry about having to cut gaps. The rails are cut at the module borders only.
When one of the five tracks of the yard was finished, I hand-painted the rail using "Modelers Decals and Paint" rail brown. It is a very thin paint, so it took two applications to get it to take (shown here). I wound up not being happy with its result, so I repainted all of the rails later.
I will spare you the many months of work, and just show you the final results of the rail-laying effort. I reached this point on October 13, 2019, a total of 19 months after I started the rail work.
I next took the modules apart, put them on their sides, and installed the Circuitron Tortoises, the wiring, and the circuit boards that I built during a previous layout for controlling those via a fascia pushbutton.
This shows the pushbuttons and their associated red and green LEDs installed in the fascia of the module. The buttons are lined up with the throwbar of the matching turnout, and the position of the LEDs is such that they reference the direction of the two tracks breaking away from the turnout, with them each marking which track. That is why the red LED is at the bottom of the pushbutton shown at the top (the divergent track), and on the top of the bottom pushbutton. Red is the diverging track, and green is the straight-through track.
While I had the modules sat on their sides and the rails were easily within reach, I repainted them all. I completed this work on December 29, 2019. I used Anita's All Purpose Acrylic Craft Paint (part #11185 Rich Brown) to paint the rails. It is a bit thick, but keeping the brush wet with water helped.
I wasn't quite happy with the darkness of the ballast around the mine tipple, so I added several layers of finer "coal" to the first module. You can clearly see the difference between it and the next module.