There are at least two great sock machine lists on yahoo: sockknittingmachines and sockknittingmachinefriends. There are some great informational sites out there, www.sockmachine.com, www.yrstation.com, and others if you google "antique sock machine" you'll probably find more. But those two have complete manuals and instructions both.
I'd really recommend you lobby the museum to set up their autoknitter with some "sample" knitted socks on it -- nothing like keeping a machine in use to ensure it looks lovely and glows with oil and the love of use!
Re the rust, I recently cleaned a machine with just "mystery" (the brand name, I guess) oil, not all the rust came off so I'm going to try a mild rust removing oil next (with the wire scrubbers) -- or when it warms up enough outside to go at it with the metal brushes too. But enough came off for me to get it all together and use it, hoo-ray!
(posted by me to sockknittingmachinesswapshop this day)