I disappeared for a while. Here is the short version of how things played out last weekend.
After disassembling the steering wheel, steering column/box, and removing the steering cable (12 hard to reach zip ties under the floor!) from the boat it was time to remove the cable from the box. As you will see in the pictures, this was the moment the game changed. All of the parts (bushings, cable guide etc.) were in good shape...except for the main planetary gear that was in two pieces. Amazing that the steering was able to function at all with a two piece gear.
The gear is unavailable and I can't weld white metal. To be honest, taking the risk of a fix at this point feels like throwing good money after bad. Looks like the decision about which system to go with was made for me. Unless you have any other suggestions...Uflex it is.