We all know that the old Stanley planes are great. I know this to be fact, because over the past 5 years or so, I have watched the prices on eBay skyrocket out of control. Take the plane in the picture, I paid $40 for that #6 Stanley plus shipping. Now maybe you live in an area where you can go down to the local flea market, garage sale, or dude on the corner, and buy a decent old Stanley for $20, take 2 hours or less and have it working like new. Well I don't, so I look for these bargain planes on eBay and fix them up.
Before I tell you what I do I want to say something. Everything in these pictures are original parts, even the iron, but not the chip breaker. The original was beyond repair. I generally use Lee Valley chip breakers, no real reason, I just like them. You could also use Hock breakers, they are nice too.
What do I do to old rusty Stanley planes? First, I take the entire plane apart and clean the old wood chips out of it. Then I place the blade, chip breaker, lever cap, and any other rusty steel in vinegar. Yup, get a Tupperware container and fill it with the metal bits and drowned them in vinegar. Leave it for 24 hours (or 48 if you forget), come back and you can quickly clean the parts with a metal brush and WD-40. It takes seconds to clean the rust off. You can even pore the vinegar back in the jug and use it again. Next, polish the brass (I use Brasso), sand and spray lacquer the handles, clean and flatten the frog face (if needed), and clean and paint the body. I painted the body with an automotive type paint with harder in it, its tough stuff and last for a long time. I like clean planes that look good, I'm not a collector, and I hardly ever sell my planes. Plus, good looking clean planes stay nicer longer, and get used more often. To clean the sides and body I generally do very light wet sanding. I only flatten the bottom if it really needs it. This plane didn't, so I skipped that part.
I know some people have issues about removing the patina from old planes. I try not to when they are in user condition, but this plane was in useless condition, so it warranted no preferential treatment in my book.
In the end I have a very nice, clean, and highly functional #6 plane. I'm sure I could sell this on eBay for over $100 now, but I would rather keep it and use it, because that's how I roll.