This really bit me- it shouldn't have- but it did.... 

I had a i386 system with a 4GB disk -- root partition ~1GB.... but the
motherboard was setting up BIOS as a CHS instead of an LBA arrangement.

The only time this showed up as problem was that when I reinstalled the
loader (and related forth files), loader silently was not able to read /boot
or /modules- the key word here is "silently".

There ought to be a warning in loader(8) maybe about this?

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