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PS/2 mod.70/386 install: Failure at first RAMDISK message

I'm attempting to install Debian Linux on an old IBM PS/2 model 70 386.  The install hangs soon after placing the boot disk into the floppy drive and pressing ENTER.  The location of the hang corresponds to the end of section 5.3 in the installation instructions for x86 machines.  I've attempted to troubleshoot the installation process per those instructions, to no avail. 
Problem Description
When I used the following boot command
linux ed=925,8,33 verbose debug
The installation software appears to read the hardware configuration successfully, and I see the following message output before the machine hangs:
PS/2 ESDI: Integrated ESDI adapter found in slot 4
PS/2 ESDI: DMA arbitration level : 5
PS/2 ESDI: hard reset...
PS/2 ESDI: Attention error.  Interrupt status : EF
PS/2 ESDI: status: 08
PS/2 ESDI: reset interrupt after 1165 jiffies,  11.65 secs
PS/2 ESDI: Drive 0
PS/2 ESDI: Device Configuration Status for drive 0
PS/2 ESDI: Spares/cyls: 8Config bits: Zero Defect, Skewed Format, Non-Removeable, Retries
PS/2 ESDI: Number of RBA's: 235520
PS/2 ESDI: Physical number of cylinders: 925, Sectors/Track: 33, Heads: 8
PS/2 ESDI: Drive 1
PS/2 ESDI: Attention error. interrupt status : 2F
PS/2 ESDI: Device not available
PS/2 ESDI: ps2esdi_out_cmd timed out while sending command (status=00) eda: eda1 eda2 < eda5 >
VFS: Insert root floppy disk to be loaded into RAM disk and press ENTER
I then follow the directions using the disk containing the image of the file root.bin and...
VFS: Disk change detected on device fd(2,0)
RAMDISK: Compressed image found at block 0
...And that's all she wrote.  At that point, the machine hangs.  I've done this approximately a dozen times with the same results, and I've sometimes waited for between an hour and a day (!) to see if the boot process will produce additional output.  No success there.
I occasionally see the following error when no boot command is provided at the first prompt (that is, I just hit {ENTER} to boot, without specifying the ESDI disk parameters etc.):
Machine Configuration
I would like to configure this machine as a firewall for a small network.  For this reason, the machine contains two NICs.  I'm operating under the assumption that one of the available Debian packages will contain iptables, ipchains or some reasonable equivalent.
Here is the machine configuration:
IBM PS/2 model 70 386 (8570-121)
120 MB HD, ESDI Interface
Slot 1 - IBM display adapter 8514a
Slots 2 and 3 - 3Com  3C529-TP Network Adapter
Slot 4 - Integrated Fixed Disk Controller (ESDI)
The machine previously had an external Dolphin brand 5.25" disk drive set up as B:.  I've removed that drive from the machine (including the little interface card that plugged into the B: drive interface slot).  Upon doing that, I saw that the machine wouldn't boot properly from the A: drive.  I then replaced the A: drive with another 3.5" drive (reconditioned, from a business that specializes in reconditioned PS/2 parts).  I started seeing the problem above (the hang after "RAMDISK: Compressed image found at block 0") after that drive was installed, and before I installed the two NICs.  The installation of the NICs appears to have had no effect on the Debian installation in that sense; however, I think I've only seen the "110" error since the NICs were installed.
I'd appreciate any help that the readers of this list might be able to provide.  Thanks for your anticipated assistance.
Gordon Smith

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