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[BKARTS] Hickok standing press - restoration

I've recently acquired an old wooden & cast iron Hickok standing press. It's covered in a peeling layer of paint that covers all the wood and metal. I'd like to restore this press for use in editioning books. I have some idea of how to proceed, but am not a professional conservator, so would appreciate any advice available.

here's pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/press817/sets/ 72157613860237420/

My plan for now: Strip all the paint from wood pieces (with heat or chemical?). Clean all metal pieces with lye. Chase threads on all the nuts & bolts. Paint metal with primer & gloss black. Shellac wood & finish with marine varnish. Fabricate missing washer & bolt. Reassemble & use.

1) What was the original finish on the wood & metal of this press?
2) What approx years was this style made?
3) How rare is such a press? I've never seen one of this style before
4) are there any issues I should be aware of?

This isn't going to be a museum piece, but I want to respect the historical integrity of this beautiful machine. It was obviously hand made by craftsman who put great care into it's creation, evidenced by it's 100+ year lifespan.

This is not the first machine I've reconditioned, but I don't have much experience with wood, so i'd appreciate any knowledge that's out there.

thanks, Alex Brooks
press eight seventeen - lexington letterpress

(cross posted a few places)

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