Okay, now we have a better idea of what your system looks like. You are correct, we do need to get the boot loader installed somewhere.
I would try to boot to VL using the CD. As root run "vasm", go to filesystem, LILO and try to install from there. If you want to multiboot using LILO/GRUB, it should go in the MBR, even though it says "possibly unsafe". If it messes up, you can repair using your XP install disk (assuming it's not a "restore disk"). If that doesn't work, you may try to install to root partition and use the alternate procedure to add it to the XP boot menu.
You are in a good position since you have your old hard drive as a backup. Trivia: the reason why moving a partition takes longer than cloning is that when cloning, you have two drives, one reading and one writing. When moving, one drive has to do all the work.
If you end up starting over, I would just clone the drive and leave Windows on the first partition. Unless the machine is ancient it should work just fine.