Thank you for your help. After looking through the links suggested by Louis, it was obvious that the hp recovery CDs could only work on a hard drive that had the recovery partition intact - which makes you wonder why you would need the CDs in the first place if you already have a recovery partition. Following are the steps I took to successful recovery.
1. Using a different working computer I made an image of the recovery partition from the crashed hard disk using the free Macrium Reflect program which I downloaded from Cnet. http://download.cnet.com/Macrium-Reflect-Free/3000-2242_4-10845728.html?tag=mncol;1
I used an external USB hard drive enclosure to access the crashed hard disk. While the System partition was completely inaccessible, the recovery partition was intact.
2. Using the same computer and USB hard drive enclosure I recovered the recovery image on my new Western Digital hard drive using Macrium Reflect. I then installed the new hard drive on to the hp Pavilion a6500f PC. I attempted to recover the system with the recovery disks but still got the same error "This PC is not supported by the System recovery discs....."
3. After reviewing more suggested links form Louis I decided to recover the PC WITHOUT the disks by pressing F8 on startup and selecting "Repair PC" option. On the recovery menu I went to "Advanced Options" and selected to restore computer to factory settings. The installation proceeded successfully but when Windows Vista started I got "CODE PURPLE" error. "Your System has encountered configuration error. Please call your customer care..."
I was getting frustrated at hp but I googled the purple error and got help at this link: http://www.billoblog.com/?p=152
Reply number 128 on that topic:
"If you have Vista installed on your HP machine that is throwing a fit with this there is a real easy fix which I found. When the error dialog box appears press Shift+F10 to pull up the command line, type the following command without the quotes “edit C:\hp\bin\checkdmi\checkdmi.cmd”, then after the REM lines add the following code without quotes “goto cleanup”, save the file and exit the editor and restart with the following command without quoates “shutdown -r -t 0″ then your set and done."
The edit command failed with this error: ""'edit' is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file."
Being in a 64 bit environment "edit" was not available. I was able to work around that by replacing "edit" with "notepad" in the command.
The system now works fine. Thank you for all your help.