thanks for the quick response! OK, so I didn't read the help of chdman enough! I was able to create a hard drive (306,4,17 are the CHS for the original):

chdman -createblankhd xt.chd 306 4 17

but the following error occurs:

imgtool.exe put pc_chd xt.chd ..\MFM\ADMSMTH.DOC ADMSMTH.DOC

xt.chd: Corrupt image

So, I started using wimgtool.exe which created a similar disk; 100/16/32 or something like that. wimgtool.exe is sort of buggy in it's copies, but dragging and dropping is a whole lot better than one at a time copies (although i was kind of looking forward to scripting it!). I copied the system files (DOS3), autoexec, config.sys, and the DOS directory (I did not see IO.sys or's been a while, but shouldn't those be there with DOS3.x?)

upon starting MESS, I'm getting all sorts of disk controller errors as before (601, 1701 depending on the model).

Do I need to format the chd at all? mark it as an active partition?

thanks again for all the help?

oh, and I'm using 0131 of Mess, as i read that later versions had issues with PC chd's.