I’m still getting tips on possible ways to remove this blasted snap ring. Several good ones, but that bugger ain’t coming out with anything less than a cutoff wheel.
I’ve solved the issue for now, though, and my typical cheapassery won out. Pick-N-Pull had an identical (aside from being 2wd) 2001 Suburban 2500 on the lot with a bone-dry steering gear. I nabbed it and slapped it on my truck. About 100 miles later it’s still not leaky or sloppy. It was junkyard-expensive at $50, but still way cheaper than a re-man.
Interesting fact: The 2wd 2500s have a sector shaft with 3 master splines, while the 4wds have 4 master splines. My 4wd had 3, so it would appear the gearbox and pitman arm are not original.