Wanting one but NOT wanting to spend much, imagine my delight when I found one at a yard sale for $10. It was a store bought unit that was around $250 new. Now, a few years old and not very well taken care of it was almost junk. It was all there and all the metal parts were well rusted. The marble that had been attached to the metal base had fallen off and there was a rust hole in the Fire Box. However I figured, with a little TLC it would be as good as new.
The first and MAIN thing needed was to remove as much of the rust as possible. In this case, I decided a 4 inch steel wire brush that could be chucked into an electric drill was the best tool for the job. It is a VERY dusty job so wear protection!
Water had puddled in the bottom of the Fire Box and rusted a hole all the way through. I made a Repair Plate from some aluminum flashing I had and screwed it over the hole (after painting the steel underneath).
With the rust is gone, the steel bare and the repairs made, you must seal it up so it will not rust again! For that you need paint. However due to the high heat involved you CAN NOT use regular spray paint. They make paint for Barbecues that is supposed to stand up to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit after it dries. Not being sure of the temperature of hot coals, I decided to play it safe and use paint made for automobile exhaust manifolds. It was rated for over 1400 degrees Fahrenheit. The paint had one drawback, unlike the barbecue paint that just has to dry, the manifold paint must be baked after it has dried to make it permanent. Not having an stove big enough, I relied on the first fire I built to do the baking.
Finally I had to reattach the marble. Again, not sure on how hot the metal it was going to be attached to would get, I decided to play it safe and get the material that would handle the highest heat. I chose fireplace mortar. As with the manifold paint, it needed to be heated to make it hard. Again I relied on the first fire to do the job.