I needed to find a way to effectively remove all the paint. There were several spots where the paint had flaked off and was replaced with spots of rust. I figured I might as well do a full strip and repaint as that would give me the most durable finish.
The first thing I tried was Citristrip since it seemed like a low odor, eco-friendly option.
It kinda works if you put enough of it on and wait long enough, but for me it was just too slow and too messy. You still have to wipe out all of the paint that has dissolved and because of all the crevices in the castings its just too much work. Also it didn't work so well on some of the black paint (which might be some kind of epoxy paint). At that point I decided I'd have to resort to some blasting.
I've watched a lot of American Restoration on the History channel and they always use blasting for paint removal so I thought I'd give that a try. After doing some research, it seems that using regular sand for sand blasting is pretty bad for you (go figure). Apparently the silica in sand can really screw up your lungs. Coupled with the fact that i'm doing this in my backyard where I'd like to one day grow some vegetables, I needed to find a safe and eco-friendly abrasive. I also needed to find a cheap blasting machine so off to Harbor Freight I went. I settled on the Portable Abrasive Blaster Kit
My first choice for blast media was ground walnut shells since I've seen it used on American Restoration I figured that would be good. I was wrong. It's definitely an eco-friendly option. But on the tougher paints it was pretty slow or not working. Also it was only available in courser grits which I later learned makes the process even slower. I finally tried using this company's proprietary abrasive known as Kleen Blast. Its deemed safe enough for even CA, so it should be fairly safe. Still you want to be wearing the full respirator setup. This worked like a charm, especially using the fine grit size.
To contain the mess and allow me to reuse the abrasive, I made a "blasting tent" out of lots of 6 mil plastic, ladders, and a 10ft long aluminum screed/straightedge. Between each blasting session, I had to dry out the abrasive in the sun, otherwise it would clump just enough to clog up the machine. Ideally, you should have enough abrasive to do a whole session without needing to recycle any of it.