The deed is done, no more noticeable dead zone in the steering wheel
action and the steering
cable is not bar tight. The idler pulleys have been inspected as well. The only thing that bothered me a little is a thin layer of black dust under the idler pulleys. I decided that it wasn't enough to worry about. Could be a little wear in the pulleys, could be a little wear in the chain or sprocket or occasional contact between chain and any casing the chain runs in. Possibly needs to be checked in two or three years.
Oh, despite not having to climb in the hole, the job took way longer than expected and I left some blood to prove I was there
Thanks again for all the suggestions!