OK, I finally got the time to take the seats out to inspect the reels.
They seem OK with good tension. I think the problem lies in the door pillars, where the belts go through. The last 18 inches or so of belt show higher friction from the top to the bottom, when holding the belt in both places and manually feeling it as it goes back and forth.
I managed to get the belt in by inching it in and out of the reel quickly until it was all in.
Its a pain but do-able. I assume that inside of the pillar there is some insulation bunching up the more the belt reels in.
I do not like the idea of going inside myself without guidance from someone who has done this before....any takers ?
If not, at least I know the belts do work now, which is better than I was before.
Thanks guys, especially Michael for the perfect instructions.
1990 124, 300E 2.6 (daughters car)
2000 Lexus RX300 (Wifes Car)