Thanks for your insight. I just looked through the code again and I believe it's doing the right thing. Even so, I changed it to do *exactly* what you prescribed above. Same problem.
Have you seen the tDOM processing of install.xml work properly on HEAD? If so, can you recall when it last worked? I'm wondering if it has ever worked since the port to tDOM. If so, then I can focus on changes in this area of code since it was last known to work. I don't see a problem with the way it's coded, but the objects are definitely not persisting between pages.
I have verified that there is no aolserver restart happening between the time the objects are created and when they are used, so I see no reason for them to have disappeared.
Could this have something to do with the version of tDOM? My version is 0.7.7.