I've heard good things about those lenses myself. I'm currently considering getting the new Nikkor Micro 105 VR lens, but haven't heard too much about it, other than complaints that the VR doesn't work for closeups (gee, that is what tripods are for).
Mine is also an oldish one converted to AI. Excellent sharp lens, but avoid stopping down to f32 as there is noticeable diffraction setting in – that certainly takes the gilt off the gingerbread!
Um, Richard, the smallest aperture that it makes sense to use depends a bit on magnification. At 1:1, the effective f/number is twice the f/number set. Since the most resolution obtainable is ~ 1500/effective, if we set the aperture to f/32 at 1:1 the best we can hope for is not much better than 20 lp/mm.