Oh my God, it's alive!
Well, the new battery took care of my main Powerbook troubles. Today I took screwdriver in hand to replace the clock battery, using PB Fix-it's online tutorial. http://www.pbfixit.com/Guide/3.11.0.html The operation was as smooth as Panic-attack Pie. I was pre-armed with screwdrivers, and some Torx bits I got off Ebay...though I couldn't find my spudger and had to use a pocket comb to pry up circuit boards.
Everything actually went fairly smoothly at first. The little half-inch-long Torx bit was fine for removing the monitor screws.
Then I came to some screws that were down half-inch wells. I attempted it anyway, and the Torx bit fell into the hole, and off to the side through a crack in the plastic. It took about twenty minutes with a forceps to get it out again, then I went off to Green Bay for a Torx screwdriver set...which cost a little less than the stupid Ebay bits. I should have shopped first!
So, anyway, I drove home again, stopping to pick up a little lasagna from the local grocery store deli, which I set down on the table to torture my dog as I went back to my obsession. With a few more panic attacks, I managed to get the whole computer disassembled (you have to, to get at the PRAM battery!) only to realize I didn't know which way the battery cable plugged in. In the end, I assumed that, since it was nearly impossible to see the socket (hidden under a board), that there had to be only one possible way to put it in, and that if it fit, it was in the right way.
Using a magnifying glass, I could see that there was a gap, which looked as if the battery wire wasn't plugged in as far as it should be...but repeated pushing made no difference, so I finally gave up and decided to put the thing back together.
The optimistic instructions for reassembly at PB Fix-it said 'Follow the directions in reverse.' It actually went pretty well, except...well, static electricity is supposed to fry your computer dead, and for some reason, as I reassembled it, I kept getting popped with static. By the time I was trying to get the keyboard cables back into their clamps, I was sure I had shorted out the entire computer. (I don't wear a static strip, but generally take the precaution of touching a metal object before touching the computer.)
But I plugged it in...and booted it up...and it worked. What's more, I set the clock, shut down, pulled the plug and, after several deep breaths, plugged in and booted up again...and the clock was still set.
The dog and I got our lasagna at last. Cold.
By the way, about the old, dead battery. (The power battery, not the clock battery!) Someone told me you could sometimes revitalize them by freezing them for 24 hours, then using Battery Reset. I tried it. After charging, I pulled the plug, leaving the computer relying only on my worthless dud of a battery. I was amazed, as the screen continued to glow for about thirty seconds. Then I got the low-battery shut-down warning, and shut it down.
It may not sound like much, but the computer has never run off that battery long enough to give me a shut-down warning before. Gosh-darn if the trick didn't work!