Thanks for the input so far. River Rat, the gear was replaced several years ago. I'm going to back off the stop screw on the down limit switch and then remove it and check it for functionality. Things seem to be pointing toward that switch not opening when the buckets are down. Perhaps I can check the motor by hitting the headlight switch with the down limit switch disconnected (simulates the switch opening). The buckets should raise if the motor is not fried. Fingers crossed that it still works.
If the motor is toast someone said it can be rebuilt. It seems to be coated with a heavy duty paint. I assume the rebuilder will strip off the paint, disassemble, rebuild and repaint. But I'll be positive and say it will work as I do NOT want to go thru that contortionist act to remove and replace it.