Compact Dispatcher's Desk

The new dispatcher/operator work station at Spreckels.

A lot has happened in the basement over these past few weeks. One of the earlier projects was the addition of a small work station under the town of Spreckels. 

First and foremost, I needed a place to store the layout’s DCC station, a Digitrax Zephyr. Because this does extra duty as an additional throttle, decoder programmer, as well as general power for the layout, I couldn’t simply mount it somewhere out of sight. I settled on the town of Spreckels as the location for a stationary throttle because it will be an area that sees a lot of operations.

Green felt was installed in the storage compartment. The drawer is in its fully extended position.

When trying to decide what to do, I did a lot of searching for other layouts online. I drew inspiration from both Trevor Marshall's Port Rowan and Bernard Kempinkski's USMRR Aquia Line layouts. Both of them convincingly combine functionality and aesthetics, in their layout design. The results are layout spaces that feel complete, intentional, and comfortable.   
Inspired by their work, I decided that I wanted to build something that would provide a space to fill out work orders or time tables, while maintaining the feel of a 1900s desk, in a very limited capacity. I also wanted something simple, unobtrusive, and finished. I decided that a drawer would be useful: it would keep things out of sight when not in use, and provide a both a place to store things, as well as a desktop surface. I didn't work off any direct plans, sort of made it up as I went along. 

The drawer is made from basswood, sold as "hobby wood" at Ace Hardware and Michaels. Arts and Crafts The dimensional lumber is sold in 3" wide strips, which I decided would be the perfect size because I didn't want to deal with a lot of cutting. The drawer glides are designed for keyboard trays. The challenge here was finding sturdy drawer glides that would allow the entire drawer to extend from under the layout. I couldn’t find something that fit those requirements, so I settled for 12” slides that extend about ¾ of the way. 

The fully extended drawer allows for easy access to the throttle, as well as enough room to fill out operations paperwork should that need come up. I'm trying to decide how to include a fast clock. The easiest way would be to slide the Zephyr back, and put a clock in its place. I could pull the Zephyr back out when needing to program or troubleshoot. 
I wanted something that felt like a desktop writing pad, and landed on a green leather mousepad. 

As an added touch, I ordered a small leather mousepad with “PVC” monogrammed in the corner. The goal here was to create the look of a desk with a writing pad on it. The leather is considerably more comfortable to write on than the thin wood surface. 
Eventually I'll add a drawer facing that matches the yet to be installed fascia in this area. 

This was a rewarding project that brought some design to a relatively simple, and very useful, element. 

Products Used:
Decorative Hinges
Drawer Slides


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