reopening a closed fireplace to burn solid fuel

I want to reopen a recently closed-off fireplace, but there's not very much information on the web to guide me. It was closed off earlier this year after I had the backboiler taken out. Now, if I remember correctly, after I take out the breeze blocks there's a rather large hole left behind with a throat from the old fireback keeping up the front of the fireplace, and that's it. I need to fit a new clay fireback under the old throat. I suppose I could take some more brickwork out from on top of the throat, and even the throat itself, but I'm worried that the brickwork above it might collapse because, from what I've read so far, the throat acts as a concrete lintel and keeps the interior wall from collapsing. The best links I've found so far are
http://www.diydoctor.org.uk/projects/fireplace2.htm http://www.lets-do-diy.com/Projects-and-advice/Fireplaces/Restoring-a-fireplace.aspx http://www.c20fires.co.uk/fireplace_fitting.htm
Does anyone here have any better sites that I can visit for guidance, or advice of their own to guide me? There's one question in particular I would like to ask; do I need to completely remove the chimney lining which was fitted for the earlier gas backboiler, or can I just remove as much as my arm can reach?
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Don't know if it helps, but some years back we stripped our fireplace back to, what I believe is called, the builder's opening. It had, when a previous owner lived here, had the back boiler removed so it was already a bit of a mess. We finished up with a brick opening 2' 6'' wide by 2' 9'' high and 14'' deep. All the throat etc was taken out and we found that there was a concrete joist across the top of the opening to support the brick work above. We then built the bottom up with three layers of bricks and mortar and put in one of those gas powered imitation coal fires, the old fashioned basket type. Twenty odd years later it still looks good and the fire is a nice occasional alternative to the central heating.
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Keith W
Sunbury on Thames
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On Wed, 28 Jan 2009 18:01:30 -0000, "Keith W"

Well, yes, a gas fire with hot coals sounds ideal and practical, but I'm standing firm here and going for a solid fuel fire with a clay fireback. I can always install a small gas fire with a basket of reusable coals like you have in the clay fireback if I get fed up using solid fuels, because I still have a closed off and tapped gas pipe that runs up to the fireplace. First things first, though: I've got to remove the flexible flue lining and get the chimney swept. After that I can think about fitting the fireback. Sorry for the long delay responding to you, Keith.
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wrote:

Yes a fireplace structural opening is simply a lintol, usually concrete, or a brick arch, with that size of aperture below. You can a log basket type fire in there or a wood burning stove, but an open coal will need a proper fabricated fireplace made out of fire brick complete with throat. If there was a fire there before the chances are that you already have the all important hearth slab. The flue liner might possibly be suitable for re-use, if not you will need to check that the chimney lining mortar is still serviceable and not crumbled away. For further guidance Google Approved Document Part J.
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When we opened up our fireplace to put in one of those modern 'real coal effect' gas fires, the lintel was nothing more than an iron/steel bar about two foot long and about an inch and a half wide and quarter inch thick - the nice touch was that they had chiseled a groove in the bricks to hide this bar! That's the difference between a modern house and one built in 1921!
From what I remember when my dad had this done, when the firepalce was nothing more than a big void, they bought a fire back which is what I think you refer to as the clay back, it is shaped to take the grate and the back of it protrudes forward then sharply back agin to increase draft flow. This was then cemented in place (make sure you use fireproof cement especially for the job. the grate was installed and there you have it
Ron
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