Win vista, boot manager can i repair in HDD


Hi all
im fairly good with computers i often fix them for people but this one has me stumped, i have a laptop with Vista booting issues, first off i had a load issue on boot, sorted this but now the boot manager is missing, i have been into the recovery console and tried "repair" i have been in Dos and bootsect.exe, bootrec.exe and fixedMbr, rebuild Mbr etc, done em all and still nowhere, when i boot up to the repair console from a boot disk it doesn't actually list an os?.
I have downloaded bootloader but i guess this is only any good if you can get into windows,
What i want to know is i have taken out the HDD and accessed windows from there, i have backed up all my photos, videos etc from it, i once remember repairing the boot files in here (system32) as windows makes a back up of them i simply copied and pasted them to the boot file, can i do this with the problem i am having now?, i feel its getting to re installation time,
many thanks for you time in advance.
First try "startup repair" from the Vista DVD after disconnecting all other HDDs.
That's normally the reason the reason it can't detect an OS (if the OS actually still exists, that is)
Second, check that the Vista partition is marked "active" on its HDD.