Having researched MAF problems after your reply, it gives me hope that this could be the cause. It is running an oiled air filter. It had it when I got it and I figured it was a nice little upgrade....but reading about MAF sensors it seems to be a main cause for problems. So, I got an OEM filter and will see how it does (it has improved, which would be odd if it was the transfer case). I will also try (carefully) cleaning the MAF and will report back with results so hopefully this journey may help someone else later.
Thanks for your thoughts, you may have saved me some serious $$.