Sorry to hear about that, MI.
I had a similar problem a year-and-a-half ago with my Pentium 166. After 13 years with no problems whatsoever, the built-in CMOS battery finally died.
It would start fine in Win98 Safe Mode using the BIOS defaults, but got hung up when loading the Windows drivers in "normal mode".
However, I couldn't find the battery anywhere(!).
After much seraching, I discovered that I had an NVRAM battery, which looks like an IC/microchip. From a tutorial by Gabriel Torres on "Replacing the Motherboard Battery" at hardwaresecrets.com:
"The NVRAM battery is a little black box that contains the clock circuit and a small lithium battery...
...The NVRAM may be directly soldered to the motherboard instead of being held on to it through a socket. In this case, you will have of de-solder the old circuit and solder the new one. That task is only recommended for people who really have experience de-soldering and soldering electronic components."
Ugh. That was exactly the case. I was able to DL the HD, and bought another Pentium computer... This time, one with an easily replaceable CR2032 battery!