I don't have OSS or ALSA running anymore and I didn't do anything with any of the pcmcia stuff. I rebuilt 1.1.14 and re-installed it just in case
The only other thing that I did change was in the IBM BIOS ( which doesn't give a lot of choices) I disable the "Easy Boot" section as advised by IBM's web page for non-windows OS.
Well, I've since restored the setting and also booted W98 and all seems to be well in there.
Any more clues ? This is driving me nuts.