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getting mail through a masq'd server times out on larger email

I am having an intermittent mail problem when my netscape clients go out
through a debian 2.2 masqurading server.

The server was receintly upgraded from 2.1 to 2.2. The upgrade happened
before it began service as a masq server.  (No this server has never
been fully operational).

When netscape goes to 'get messages'  it connects and begins getting the
messages.  If there are short messages, they will be received.  But if
there are any moderately large emails it will lock up.  Usually netscape
will come back and say "network connection reset by peer"
When I watch pppstats it appears that when netscape begins it gets full
bandwidth ~3k/s, then in between 5-25 sec it drops way down, usually 0
except for a few hits.

Please help, I am really looking bad here...

Netscape on win NT and 98 on network 192.168.x.x 10baseT
server running ppp over 56k modem to isp.  All software is loaded
through dselect w/default stable directory and hand configured.

Currently manually called network setup:
/sbin/depmod -a
/sbin/modprobe ip_masq_ftp
echo "1" > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward
echo "1" > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_dynaddr
/sbin/ipfwadm -F -p deny
/sbin/ipfwadm -F -a m -S -D

What I have tried
Problem showed up with kernel 2.0.36
MRU  changed from default to 552 in /etc/ppp/options
MTU  changed from default to 552 in /etc/ppp/options
Recompiled and curently using kernel 2.2.17 optomize as router

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