Just an update...
After the 10th try, I have a working custom compiled kernel.
It just takes patience and a methodical approach. Gook luck
This is so very true!
I still have the original problem.
So far I've tested :
All will work in the original distro installed kernel.
None will work in the updated kernels.
Also... didn't work in the compiled "custom" kernel.
Now for the interesting part.
Yesterday, in frustration, I went to my friendly neighborhood comp store and bought another new cdrom.
It works! Odd though, since one of the one's that doesn't work is it's twin from 2 weeks ago.
Somehow there seems to be a seek error with the other drives.
I'm going to be checking the drivers to see if there are any differences between the kernel versions.
If anybody has experienced this and has a solution.... Please let me know.
My heartfelt thanks to those who helped me.
Special thanks to "jailbait" for giving me excellant advice and encouragement.