well - it gets curioser and curioser....I've got over the booting issue - looks like my DVD drive was dead - tho why that was having the effect it did I really dont know.
I've popped in an old DVD Rom from my second rig - it is recognised fine in BIOS, I have it jumpered to cable select, on an Akasa IDE cable (Master plug) and IDE1.
Shows up as Primary IDE master, machine now boots fine, no corruption of the BIOS device names.
Problem is, that the drive disappears from Windows part way through a session!
I can start the machine, load a disc, see the drive recognised in My Computer/Properties/Hardware/Device Manager, but if I try to run anything from it or run a game that requires a a disc in the drive it disappears - literally!
If I try to run Battlefield2 from the desktop icon, the splash screen comes up, then after a while it says "please ensure you have the disc in the drive"...which it is.....but if I go to Device Manager, XP cannot see an optical drive at all....even though it was there earlier.
Cables are in as tight as they can be without being forced.