My game plan was to format the hd and get the laptop to boot from there, then install enough stuff on the hd to be able to use the cdrom drive. Here's the way I finally did it:
l. On my desktop pc made what I call a "Format disk" containing fdisk.exe, format.com, and command.com. Used this to boot the laptop, run "fdisk," then "format c:/s." (I found that not every version of format will support the /s switch). I was then able to boot the laptop from its own hd.
2. To my "format disk" I added the following:
MSCDEX/D:MSCD001and a config.sys file with:
DEVICE=HIMEM.SYS (probably not needed) DEVICE=C:OAKCDROM.SYS/D:MSCD001
3. Copy these files into the root directory of the laptop. Power down, remove the floppy drive, install the cdrom drive. On power up the cdrom drive will be recognized as drive d if you do all the above right. Then just insert your windows cd in drive d, and from the c: prompt type "setup." Nothing to it once you know how. Some cdrom drives may need different drivers.