I had to hand lay HO track for a customer once, many years ago. I bought pre-stained ties, I think they were from Campbell. These are probably not available now - but here's the process if you have wood ties.
I like to stain the raw wood ties with an oil-based stain like Maple. It dries overnight and doesn't raise the grain.
Mix up a jar full of stain and thinner and drop the ties in, let them soak a while and put them on newspaper to dry. When dry I glad them to the roadbed using white glue. Years ago I used a tie spacing jig that was available at the time but now you can just place them by hand. Put weights on the ties until the glue dries.
Next, I sanded the tops of the ties until all the ties were at the height of the lowest tie. Then I restrained the tie tops and laid the pre-painted rail.
There's a good tutorial at - http://prsl.ch/twiki/bin/view/MRR/TrackWork
- just forget the HOn30 part.