I'm currently planning on retiring before the 59 1/2 year old milestone where 401k's and IRA's become accessible penalty free. One workaround I've heard of to access your retirement funds early is to do conversions out of your 401k accounts into Roth IRA's. After a 5 year seasoning period, you can withdraw the principal from the Roth account penalty free. So you could conceivably access your 401k funds early by doing these conversions on an annual basis.
For more information, the concept is discussed in "Strategy 2" here:
First, is the above a valid plan and not in violation of any IRS rules?
Second, are there any limitations that would make this an unfeasible way to fund my first years of retirement?
As an example, is there a limit to the amount of funds I can rollover from my 401k to a Roth IRA each year?