Vertex Welding - it's messing with my meshes!

i’ve been working on porting a model for a while, and i got it in and everything and finished some nice renders.
i noticed some vertex welding issues, so i fixed it on everything that had issues except for the most important part of the model: the body mesh.
i fixed it on the paws, face and eyes, etc.
now note that there’s a “seam” on her stomach area and hair.[/t]
so i brought the main body mesh back into 3DS max through the SMD importer and welded the vertices just like all of the other meshes with welding issues (paws, tail, face, etc)
then i re-exported it into the SMD format and all that jazz, compiled it into SFM and loaded the model up in-game.

this happens. when i went to place a new instance of the model, it seems like it re-adjusted the body mesh into being attached ONLY to the HeadN joint for some reason, but the paws still are still IK’d to the now-invisible skeleton
(i.e. when i move the ShoulderN joint, then the paw will IK with it as if the arm is still there on the mesh.)

$modelname "drlilrobot\catpeach.mdl"
$scale 0.4
$body catpeach "catpeach_full_noparts.smd"
$bodygroup pawL
	studio "bodygroups\pawL_open.smd"
	studio "bodygroups\pawL_grab.smd"

$bodygroup pawR
	studio "bodygroups\pawR_open.smd"
	studio "bodygroups\pawR_grab.smd"

$bodygroup eyes
	studio "bodygroups\eyes_open.smd"
	studio "bodygroups\eyes_halfclose.smd"
	studio "bodygroups\eyes_closed.smd"
	studio "bodygroups\eyes_halfopen.smd"
	studio "bodygroups\eyes_wideopen.smd"

$bodygroup face
	studio "bodygroups\face_default.smd"
	studio "bodygroups\face_smile.smd"
	studio "bodygroups\face_smileteeth.smd"
	studio "bodygroups\face_happy.smd"
	studio "bodygroups\face_bighappy.smd"
	studio "bodygroups\face_open.smd"
	studio "bodygroups\face_wideopen.smd"
	studio "bodygroups\face_frown.smd"
	studio "bodygroups\face_pucker.smd"
$surfaceprop flesh
$cdmaterials "models\drlilrobot\catpeach"

$sequence catpeach_full_nobgroups_idle "catpeach_full_noparts_idle.smd"

this is my QC.
the “noparts” means it lacks the paw meshes, eye meshes, and face meshes, because those are handled through bodygroups.

if anyone can help me fix this feel free to add me.

What SMD importer are you using? WallWorm or wunderboys?


EDIT: for some reason, in 3ds-max with the imported & welded mesh, the bones work properly, but once i compile it into source it acts like it is only part of the HeadN bone like above.

notice how the paws are independent from the arms. something else i noticed is that the leg bones are missing COMPLETELY.

EDIT: so it turns out it’s because my version of Wall Worm, but i can’t use anything but Wall Worm from my version of 3ds max. if anyone has 3ds max 2012 and is willing to re-export the offending mesh for me, PLEASE contact me. 3ds max 2012 does NOT work on Windows 8.1, so thus i cannot use Wunderboy’s tools.

2012 does work on 8.1, cause that’s what I have. Anyway, if it’s just once mesh you need exported, I can do it.