OK, back at it!
I took the column down to a "chrome shop" today. Superior Chrome in San Jose, CA. they're big into custom cars and such - show quality chrome.
They will "strip" (bead blast) and hand "polish" (hellifiknow) the column and then coat it with nickel. This costs $120.00. It may sound like a lot but if you've ever stood and bent over a wire wheel with a 25 pound chunk of steel for 1/2 hour you don't know what pain is. It hurts the back, arms, and eyes. No, thanks!
The last ghetto shop I used did not "polish" before electroless nickel plating my MBF column and it came back pretty darned nice ($85.00). I predict this shop will produce a killer column.
I'll post pictures as soon as it comes back (~2 weeks).