Old machine works fine. Boots fine with the old HDD. I will mention the vm solution to them, but funds are dry. I used partition commander and created a partition to 2gb and set it to active. copied the partion over and still sits at the black screen. What a pain.
Have you rechecked the obvious? Did you ensure the new drive is configured in IDE master mode? Did you reuse the existing 40-pin IDE cable or did you use another, which may be bad?
Otherwise, if you have the time do a modeled compare. Create and format a 2GB FAT32 test partition on the 250GB with legacy fdisk/format/sys routines, and see if it boots into C:\ on the original machine. If it does, then the issue may be with your imaging tools and/or methods.
Norton Ghost was mentioned and from personal experience I know it's reliable for cloning non-Advanced Format partitions up to 2TB. I would install the 1.624GB drive in another PC and boot that machine into DOS using the 250GB's bootable test partition which you created. Then use Norton Ghost 11.5 to firstly clone and dump both 2GB and 1.624GB partitions to compressed images (For Ghost to work, copy himem.sys to C:\DOS and reference it in config.sys with DEVICE=C:\DOS\HIMEM.SYS). Once you have both images needed for later attempts, you can then clone to the test 2GB partition directly from the 1.624GB partition. If this first attempt doesn't boot on the original machine try the other method, of partition-from-file cloning, from the compressed image of the 1.624GB drive created previously.