Well I guess I'll answer my own question just in case some one searches this problem in the future.
After hours and hours of online reading, downloading/buying and running software fixes, mac fix it, applejack etc., fixing pram and checking ram, I finally unplugged the half dozen external drives and holy MACkerel ! it started up quickly and perfectly. Just unplugging everything did it.
I'm having the same problem. 6 minutes to start up. So was your problem a software conflict? I don't understand how removing the nec software on another machine solved your problem. Does your machine search other networked machines on startup?