Okay, you've got a fender or hood (or the whole car, for that matter) that has 15 coats of chipping paint and caked rust on it. It's too big for a sand blast cabinet and will obviously take many coats of chemical stripper. A grinder would work, but the result would be hundreds of scalloped "digs" into the metal surface once the gunk is off. What would a good alternative be to get down to a manageable surface?
Well, we had just this situation with the doors of the old gas pump we're restoring and asked ourselves, "How about a belt sander?" How about that, indeed! We loaded our trusty old sander with a 36-grit belt and took the doors outside (expecting lots of dust and sparks) for a test.
It worked amazingly well! There was, as expected, enough dust to warrant the outdoor activity, but the sander dug through all the years of accumulation in record time. Both doors were done within 10 minutes and all that was left were the little detailed edges that weren't reachable by the sander. Scratches into the surface were minimal and can easily be sanded down and filled with a couple coats of filler/primer.
An added bonus was that the sanding belt showed virtually no wear. We estimate that an entire car could be stripped with 3-4 belts, making this a most economical solution. It's a little drastic and takes some practice, but it works great!