Many many years ago as a first year apprentice I cleaned a lot of machine parts. And before embracing this endever I looked at some old presses, and I read a lot about the methods other people use. And then I went out to the local industrial supply store and got some emery cloth, scotch-bright pads and wirebrush. And then I met reality! The unmovable hulk of rust. A couple of hours every night, I promissed myself. It is quite satisfying to climb into bed with sore arms, sore hands and sore fingers - leaving behind another small reclaimed spot on the press. At this rate I hate to even project how long it might take. Long!
I've read about a shop that undertook a press recovery of a press very similar to my moder, also a C&P 12x18". You can read about it here. They really did some detective work on the surface treatment and paint. Their final result looks like a piece of art. My primary motivation is to make the press productive, create art with it - but not make it into a work of art. My paint job will be more utilitarian, but with some appropriate highlights. We'll see if I can do justice to it before I say too much.