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Actually, the story I heard was that WD-40 stands for "Water Displacement formula #40", and that is backed up by their own web site: http://wd40.com/cool-stuff/history. My father worked on the Atlas missile in the Air Force (545th SMS) and I can attest that they did indeed "sneek" WD-40 out for their own use. It was developed as a machining lubricant for aerospace and used by McDonnell-Douglas, Convair, and others for machining and protecting materials like aluminum and stainless from water. As far as I know, it contains no water, and is a water repellent/displacer. It was designed to not leave much of a residue and to be easy to clean up.
I've done this exact same thing with a delta contractor saw that was also left out in the weather. I used "Naval Jelly", which is the same thing, and also finished up with Johnson's paste wax. I would like to comment that this is a very good way to clean up cast iron tools because as you pointed out, it is non-abrasive and will not deform the surface if reasonable care is exercised. I've also cleaned a band saw table that way after removing it from the saw. Keep naval jelly away from anything that you want to remain painted :) . Disassembly and cleaning, polishing, waxing, and reassembly is the way to go. Very good job describing the process. A++
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