Thanks for the replies guys/gals. I believe I have solved ths problem. for future reference for anyone else who thinks all is lost due to disk check, reboot, disk check, reboot .......... Here's how I solved this really frustrating problem:
1. Follow instructions for recovering from a corrupted registry. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/307545
(Please do this VERY CAREFULLY!!!!)
2. Do a check disk from the Recovery Console (this part was very scary)
3. Do a Repair Install from the original disk (Mine was Dell WinXP Pro SP1).
4. When I did this, the only user that showed up was Administrator. Of course we all know not to use Administrator for a
user name. I created a user named owner (same as the name used by customer previously).
5. Downloaded chipset, audio, video and all other necessary motherboard files from Dell.
6. Checked disk for files that were on the machine previously (pictures, documents.,etc) Migrated all owner files to owner
with a string of numbers (this was created by doing the repair install I think)
7. Am now in the process of downloading all updates and will double check program files are working correctly.
If any experts out there think something I have done will cause problems in the future, please post and let me know. I searched the internet and googled until I was blue in the face, and none of the solutions worked until I said I would give up the ghost and try the corrupted registry route hoping that it would not destroy the files. So far so good. Thanks again for all those who tried to help me.