Once I had the underdash area as clean as possible, I wiped it down with mineral spirits and the put on a coat of Eastwoods Rust Converter on the underside. This will help with the areas of rust in the corners I simplly can't reach. I'll give that a few days to dry and then I'll top coat with Rust Encapsulator. This might be overkill but there is a large amount of surface rust I do not want to remain active after I paint the panels.
I needed a break after all the sanding and finished the day by installing my new parking brake cables in the rear drums. I'll need to wait to completely assemble the parking brake system until after the tranmission is installed. However, this is one small project off the to-do list.
Once I finished behind the dash, I decided to go ahead and strip the front of the dash. I stripped it using sand paper, paint stripper, and some wire wheels. I sanded the entire front with 220 grit at the end to get it really smooth. I then put on a coat of Eastoods Rust Encapsulator. I'd like to go ahead and paint it but I'll need to wait until I have the area behind the dash finished up.
For those of you wondering, I'd love to have taken off the dash pad. However, it will not come off. Trust me, I've removed all the retaining nuts. I searched the internet and found people were ripping them off because they end up stuck to the dash panels.
Unfortunately, the replacement dash pads do not look very good. Since mine is original and in good condition (hard to tell with all the sanding dust on it). My plan is just to leave it on and work around it.