Sanding deck (railings)

I'm having someone come do the deck top surface sanding and refinishing/staining.
What he won't do is the railing, since he can't use his sander. His fee is very reasonable, and I don't have time to look for someone else, so I'll be doing the sanding for him, and he'll be staining. That way, the finished look will be better than having two people staining.
Is there any tool that makes the sanding job easy? Do I just use sand paper? Railings are ~18 ft long and ~3 ft high, although the top surface is too much for me to handle.
Thanks. I find this ng very helpful.
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An electric sander, a cheap B&D pobably will only last a day though.
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I did this job last summer. A *small* rectangular electric orbital sander allowed me to sand not only the railing but the square cross-section columns (balusters) that hold it up--even the inward-facing pieces on adjacent balusters. This is because the combined dimensions (height of sander + thickness of my hand) were less than the spacing between adjacent balusters. I used coarse (60 grit?) paper and didn't bother with a finer grit since no scarring was evident on the cheap wood they were made of.
Useful trick: use strips of strapping tape on the back edges of the sandpaper which get clamped in the sander--this inhibits the fraying which I found determined how long a piece would last.
--
David M. Wood, Dept. of Physics, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO 80401
Phone: (303) 273-3853; Fax: (303) 273-3919
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