I solved my initial question about why I couldn't get Word to save a plaintext file.
oWord.Visible = TRUE
oWord.Documents(filename).SaveAs newfilename, wdFormatText
This didn't work because it had no idea what the heck wdFormatText was. After playing around and throwing some random vals in place of it, I managed to stumble across a value ( 2 ) that worked.
So now my question is, how do I create/declare the object that contains the enumeration so that I can use the wdFormatText instead of using this kludge? At the very least, does anyone have a link or something to details of the enumeration? The msdn site is deplorable when trying to look up that sort of detail on non-.NET technologies.