So, here is an update on this issue. I hope it is useful to others as well.
I was able to purchase a replacement drive online from Drivesolutions.com and these folks also offer 3 different data transfer kits, all just under $50. The one I used was the CMS USB Hard Drive Data Transfer Upgrade Kit which includes a drive case, power and data cable, software and easy to use instructions.
All arrived promptly and worked flawlessly.
1) install new drive in data transfer case
2) connect new drive to laptop via USB
3) place software CD into laptop DVD drive & follow instructions
this step made an exact duplicate of my old drive's content to the new drive, turning it into a bootable drive
4) swap drives once copy process ends
5) upon reboot of the laptop (from the newly installed higher capacity drive), software does its final cleanup and uninstalls itself
6) Voila... Enjoy the laptop with 82% free space
All very neat and tidy. I've subsequently used the software again to upgrade another laptop. And I now have a spare USB drive since I was able to reuse the original drive from the laptop in the CMS enclosure.
The local shops were quoting a minimum of $60 to transfer data from the old drive to the new. This solution cost less and I now have all I need to do it again if needed.
I highly recommend all the above. No affiliation, just a happy customer.