********* 1/3/13 update *********
Today was spent cleaning and preparing the surface for primer and paint.
Multiple cleanings with mineral spirits and then acetone to clean the surface. From there I sanded it a few times to see what the pitting is like (most on the front of the floor plate as well as the top plate and a few dings and deep mars on the standing column).
Post sanding rough edges and cleaning: http://s145.beta.photobucket.com/use...tal%20Cleaning
After cleaning, I put a thin layer of bondo filler down (95% of which will be sanded off) to take care of the pitting on the base/top plates as well as any issues (including the column "seam") on the column. Went light on the hardner so I'd have time to work with the material (and the steel was quite cold) and let it set over night and start sanding tomorrow. Weekend is targeted for uniform surface and primer, maybe even painting depending on weather and how things go with sanding.
My bondo hack: http://s145.beta.photobucket.com/use...d/Metal%20Prep