so - to make a long story short, i replaced the cable i had running between the two and it's actually working. something with that wire doesn't like holding a connection between the routers (or it wasn't making good connections in the ports) but would work when directly plugged into my PC. really frustrating, to say the least.
however, now i get some really inconsistent response times through the 2nd router...traffic is pretty slow, and pings to the web(google) bounce from ~50ms to ~250ms up and down, losing packets randomly in there.
modem is set to 192.168.0.1 / 255.255.255.0
2nd router is set to 192.168.0.2 / 255.255.255.0, 192.168.0.1 as gateway
DCHP enabled only on modem - handing out 192.168.0.5 through .100
i've been trying to poke around in the router with different preferences/settings turning things on/off or disabling features - like DoS protections, QoS, etc, etc... nothing seems to really make a difference.
Lian Li Lancool First Knight Series PC-K59W
Intel Core i7-960 Bloomfield 3.2GHz
EVGA X58 FTW3 132-GT-E768-TR
EVGA GTX 660ti
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 12GB (3 x 4GB)
Crucial M4 128gb SATAIII SSD x2
Corsair Professional Series HX850 PSU