I have used the following WD drives
WD1600JB dated 2007, 8mb buffer at 7200 RPM.
WD400BB dated 2004, 2 mb buffer at 7200 RPM.
WD300BB dated 2001, 2 mb buffer at 5400 RPM
all of these took 40 seconds from power on to windows desktop in cable select and with no jumpers. In the master jumper setting they all showed the disk boot failure after 2.5 minutes of trying to boot.
I also installed a Seagate ST316023A 160gb drive, 8 mb buffer at 7200 RPM.
It also took 40 seconds in the cable select mode and also in the master mode.
So it must be an issue with Western Digital since Seagate will work in Master.
I reimaged each drive before testing with Windows XP Pro SP2 and all windows updates, nothing else installed.
Confusing but not amusing!
I believe this concludes my saga unless someone perks my interest to pick it up and try something else again.