they said I needed a new steering box due to perceived play in the wheel. Perhaps the steering box is the culprit?
If your steering box is really bad, you should be able to tell. If your car is sitting, with the engine off, can you wiggle the steering wheel and feel play?
If the effect is subtle, then do you find that the car doesn't turn very well at times, feels sloppy when tracking long radius turns, and is difficult to keep straight?
If you can see the steering box, and you can reach the shafts going into it, can you wiggle them and feel play?
If yes to those, and you trust the mechanic's diagnosis, then you could try the box. I don't know your exact vin number, so unless you've signed up for the free epc.startekinfo.com or you can tell me the vin# via PM, take this only as a general guide: the part number is A1074601901, and it's rebuilt price is about $550 ($200 will be refunded when you return your old one to them) at Autohausaz.com.
(See the image below)
As far as working on the car I do have a small service pit in the carriage house, but that won't free up the suspension. So I suppose I need to by a floor jack and some extra heavy duty stands now . . . .
I wish I had a pit. Sounds pretty handy. But how do you drain it?
Anyway, I hope someone who's done this would chime in, as to whether you have to lift the wheels off the ground to do this if you have a pit....
As for the jack, you could make do with the jack that came with your car.
Let us know, though, if you think the box is really the problem....