Anyway, yesterday I was able to borrow this rig from a neighbor:
I asked permission to clean, tune and try it for a while. With his blessing, today I got it looking a little better and operating rather smoothly:
After cleaning it and sharpening the iron, I tested it on what I thought would be a difficult material, some curly maple. It worked astonishingly well! I am having trouble getting the backmost part of the cut (where only the toe of the plane is on the board) as deep as the rest of the cut, even tilting the plane a bit. I am sure there are a whole host of techniques to learn, but this thing is great.
I hope to find one of my own someday. In the meantime, I do have a metal one which is what I will use on the bulk of my projects. This has been a ton of fun, though. I really enjoy cleaning old tools and seeing what lies underneath the nasty exterior layers.