Wow - I liked what I sawHey Mark,
Thats an impressive looking machine, and similar to what I had in mind.
In my minds eye, I saw it as being raised off the ground on some kind of base, very likely on wheels, so that the height of the cooking racks was right around eye level. That way, the "fire box" would be around waist level. I had planned to remove the range top entirely and replace with a flat sheet metal skin, and only the exit stack with a damper would stick up above that. I was going to reuse the oven temp controller to operate a single burner that would be mounted in the storage drawer underneath, equipped with a cast iron skillet for chips. Your control system is quite a bit more elaborate than what I had planned.
For those of you worried about electrical appliance use outdoors, the outlets on the outside of my garage are all GFI protected, and I never intended for it to be left in the yard, but rolled into storage when not in use.
I agree this is not a machine I would mount on a trailer and take to a BBQ contest, but then perhaps I haven't become enough of a purist yet. What I'm really after is the final product, so I can enjoy eating it.
This kinda reminds me of some of the woodworking forums I have been on. There are the "Norm-ites" - guys who use as many power tools as possible, even for simple tasks, and then there are the "Neanderthals" - guys who insist that REAL woodworking is done with hand tools and that somehow doing everything by hand makes the end product more authentic. And the battle rages on.
I see kinda the same rift here between folks who insist on tending a wood fire as their only heat source, and folks who are willing to use gas, or electricity, or even an electric wood pellet feed system so that some of the functions necessary for BBQ can be automated.
While I appreciate the desire in others for "hands-on craftmanship", I guess I fall more into the automation category. I'm willing to start a day ahead of time preparing a fine dinner, but I'm not willing to spend every hour from start to finish tending it. Thats just me, of course.
If I manage to come up with a suitable specimen, I will take pictures as I go through the conversion and post them here.