The clog was a blessing in disguise though, since I had to remove the hot end to pull the extruder, I found noticed immediately that the thermistor wire was broken. It really just fell apart, so was an easy thing to notice. What is really strange though, is that there had been no thermistor errors, so there must have been a good mechanical connection. In any case I swapped it, and in the process, learned how much I hate tiny connectors. I also found that for some reason, known only to Bambu, they put some adhesive on the stepper connector, which must be unplugged to remove the stepper. I was able to carefully pick it off, but it's sort'a annoying, I really hope that is not there due to some issue, and I will later regret having to do that, but it's the only way to get the extruder off to check it.
When I got the extruder apart, I used a toothpick to clean out the gears, which had some rusty looking crud on them. I also cleaned, and then added a very very tiny (like watchmaker tiny) drop of oil to the bearings and on the shafts in the extruder. Getting it all back together was pretty easy, aside from the micro connectors which I can hardly see, and the hot end being very stubborn about seating where I could get the screws to slide in. It is all back together though, and printing part of
While I had a packet of thermal paste open, I decided to set up a new high flow knockoff hot end from AliExpress, which I picked up for about $10. It includes everything but the fan, and I also bought a couple high-flow nozzles at the same time. I'm not planning to use this right now though, since my goal was just to get the machine back up and running with as few variables changed as possible (and the only variable changed was the thermistor in this case). The AliExpres hotend does look very nicely made though, and I have no doubt it would work, and may outperform the stock even - though with some drawbacks if using abrasives or filled materials (since it seems likely the third party high flow nozzles will clog easier). Something I also noticed with the AliExpress spare hotend socks, is that they do not have the same profile as the stock Bambu socks. That means the knock off socks will not work with my spares case, which is fine since I only have the one and probably will not buy any more.