I wanted the part of the street where the streetcars rolled to look something like the track sections in these photos.
I especially wanted all visual clues more-or-less gone that underneath was commodity Atlas track. I wasn't able to accomplish that on my old layout with just Walthers street inserts and strategically placed styrene sheets.
Also, I didn't want the rail to be a prominent visual element. It had to recede into the street - as the real thing does - and not draw too much attention to itself
Two problems arose: I wanted the flange-way to accommodate all my streetcars - new and ancient - and the railhead had to be as level with the road surface as I could manage.
First, the flange-way. It turns out my streetcar fleet - ranging from high-quality Bowser and Con-Cors to mid-range Bachmanns to ancient AHM trolleys from the '70s - has a range of flange sizes and different distances between flange backs. I wanted the track to allow for the widest range of streetcars possible so new acquisitions had a good chance of running the streets of the Alta Vista TC.After a number of trials I settled on a track insert that has the profile shown in the above photo. The base is a 0.010 inch thick strip of styrene, 17 mm wide. Glued on top is a 0.040 inch thick, 12 mm wide styrene strip. Not shown, after painting that assembly, strips of 0.020 inch by 0.040 inch, aluminum painted styrene are glued to the centre section edges to simulate the other side of the flange-way rail.
These inserts were glued into position, on top of the track's molded on rail spikes, with Testors styrene tube glue. Turns out that was a bad choice. Later I used plain, old thinly applied white glue and held the piece in place while the glue dried - as shown above - with hammers and pencils to distribute the weight. Styrene glue caused some unsightly distortions in the 0.010" piece in a few spots.
Later, when affixing the styrene inserts between the east and west bound tracks, I decided to use transfer tape to hold all the pieces in place. That worked quite well.
The resulting flange-way is much wider that the prototype, but doesn't seem too bad once streetcars, automobiles and all the other street stuff is present. If you just run Bowser or Con-Cor models, the flange-way could be made more prototypical, and you could likely operate with no problem.
The paving between the east and west bound tracks are strips of 0.060 inch styrene inserted between the rails, resting on the track's molded on spikes. Each strip needs to have the outer edges on the reverse side ground down a bit - I used my Dremel - so that the paving strip sits slightly below the rail heads, otherwise the streetcar wheels rise up on the plastic strip and stall out the model. If I could have obtained 0.050 in. strip - or glued up the centre section from 0.020 and 0.030 styrene - maybe I need not have had to do any grinding. These strips are held down with transfer tape.
Ok. We're done. Let's go for a spin!