After what seems like months of trial and error I have finally figured out why I could never install AMD64 5.2, 5.3 and 5.4 and it's completely duplicatable. During this time I updated my motherboard from AM2+ to AM3, DDR2 to DDR3, 500GB x 2 HDD to 64GB x 3 SDD without any luck.
Then I happened to attempt an install from the live DVD while the graphical Disk Utility was running and BINGO!
I have two RAID 0 devices configured using three SSDs. One for the root partition and the other for my data. Ahead of those is one for boot followed by one for swap. When I start the install I can clearly see both RAID devices go down in the Disk Utility display and they stay down until I select the drives to be included in the install. When I click "Next" the two RAID devices start up again then the first one stops after a few seconds but the second one remains active and the install hangs when the little "Finding storages devices" window pops up.
The workaround I discovered was to format the RAID partitions used for the second RAID data device so that the array never starts up. Then I am able to get almost to the end of the install. Almost because I never get the success/reboot message because when I recreate the second RAID device again during the install it never goes down at the end of the install. My system does however boot successfully even if I force the installer to quit.
A picture is worth a thousand words so where can I post a screenshot of the Disk Utility display and the hung install and "Finding storage devices" message?
Real geeks use RAID 0 - everything else is for wimps and no backup strategy is for nubies.