Well, I think I figured out some of it. I switched the BIOS over to ACHI from IRRT and all of the pre win8 partitions now boot, but of course win8 will not.
I have 10 of these laptops that I'm working on, and I'm thinking I updated the pre-win8 partitions with the BIOS set to ACHI, but then put that updated image on another system that was set to IRRT (not knowing it), didn't check the pre-win8 partitions, added win8 and now all the pre-win8 wouldn't work but win8 was fine.
That's my theory. Thx for the help. I'm considering this closed for now