Monster Model Works is a relatively new manufacturer which specializes in laser-cut wood kits and details. The amount of detail they can achieve with these methods is astounding. Their brick, stone and block walls and sheets have some of the best relief I have seen on any model yet.
Since I first discovered the beauty of their products up close at a hobby show all the way across the country, I limited my first purchase to something that would fit in my carry-on bag. Their packs of scale tie plates caught my eye right away.
Having seen their work up close (photos don't really do them justice) I am sure this won't be my last purchase. The company also offers model and scenery building services through their website in addition to a growing line of products and tools.
Railroads use tie plates to help secure and transfer the weight of the rails to the wooden cross-ties. Two plates are used per tie. And each plate has multiple holes for spikes or screws which anchor the plate to the tie and the rail to the tie through the plate.
The design of these plates has remained relatively consistent through the years. One side of the plate has a small lip to anchor against the base of the rail. Older plates had four holes and in most cases were secured by two spikes per plate (on on each side of the rail.) More recent plates have eight holes. Monster Model Works has made both varieties - how is that for attention to detail!
In addition to being found on the track, old tie plates are commonly found laying along the right of way with old spikes, ties and other trackside details. They are a small detail to be sure, but one which can add a lot to any scene.
Finishing the Models
Like other laser-cut wood models, these tie plates are relatively easy to finish. The plates come on a single sheet, with 300 per pack. All you need to do is paint, cut and install.
I recomment painting the plates before cutting them from the sheet. I used grimy black paint to represent the steel plates. Older plates can be weathered a more rusty color with weathering chalks and a small brush.
Cutting the small parts from the sheet is the most challenging part. Use a sharp hobby knife and cut the small gate (tab) carefully.
Once separated, they can be placed where desired and secured with a little white glue. If you don't have an immediate use for all 300 tie plates, leaving them on the sprue until needed will make them easier to find.
On Your Layout
These tie plates are scale sized and will work with code 70 or 83 rail. If you are hand-laying track, these can be used along with wood ties and small spikes for an extra bit of detail. They could also be used with flex track layouts on replacement ties under rail joints.
Most people, myself included, will probably use these tie plates for scenery details. The plates can be placed along the tracks, left behind in work cars like gondolas or flatcars, or stockpiled as new parts in maintenance bases.
If you are creating a larger pile of plates, you could build the base up from scraps of sized styrene or plain wood and place these detailed plates on top.
A Plate for any Scale
Monster Model Works makes these details in HO, S and O scales. Four and eight hole versions are available in of those scales as well. O scale plates are available for several sizes (codes) of rail. Cost per pack is $10.00 for HO, $15 for all of the S and O scale varieties.