Well I knew this was going to be the hardest part of my layout redesign, and I was right. The tram line is a real challenge, and I've had lots of moments of anxiety thinking that I should bag my approach and go with the Kato Unitram (which does mean waiting until more than the basic track pieces currently available are released). But I'm committed to this approach, so best to finish it off!
In my last post on the tram line, I talked about my use of sintra to create the street/top layer for the downtown area, and how careful cutting where the track contacts the sintra is necessary so that the top of the sintra sits just about level (but not quite) with the top of the rails. For the most part, this worked out, but there were some areas where the sintra was too low or there was too large of a gap between the rails and the 'street'. I've tried patching it with both caulk and Testors putty, but both were somewhat difficult to work with.
So guess what? I've ended up using Spackle after all! It actually works pretty well. I think I've got all the street to rail contact areas at the right level so that the street does not lift the wheels above the rail and lose contact, as well as nice level/flush surfaces by all the track.
So, I'm not waiting for the latest coat of paint to dry. I used a dark, dark grey primer color, which I'm starting to like a lot more than my usual lighter grey (I usually use Polly Scale paint's SP Lark Grey, which I think has a nice asphalt tone, but I'm leaning towards a dark color right now).
Here's the evolution of the 'north end' of the layout, from a lower elevated suburban area to part of the downtown with the tram line progress - The top photo is how it looked most of the past year, with the changes from the last month in the remaining photos...a much slower and tedious process than I had hoped, but this is one of those 'permanent' and hard to change layout features that I have to get 'right':