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Simplicity 7119 Issues

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Hey guys, I just purchased a 7119 with a 48" deck and snowblower.  I got it out and started mowing today, and I already broke the deck belt!  It looks like it was rubbing against the adjustment bracket where the spring attaches.  I guess I have to rearrange it when I put a new belt on.  That's not my only problem.  I was pulling it off the trailer to put it away, and it the motor started backfiring/knocking and it was shaking the front end all over the place.  If I slowed the throttle down to just above an idle, it stopped.  I moved it at idle just to get it parked.  Once parked, I set the throttle up and it started doing it again.  It almost seemed like the engine wasn't mounted down or something.  So I shut it off, and now it won't start.  Won't even crank.  I wanted to check with you guys to see if this is something you've heard of?  I don't want to start tearing it apart unless I have to. 

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New gas and clean fouled spark plugs if they look bad would be a start. I hold them upside down while sanding electrode gap with 100 - 320 grit , then flush with carb clean or brake clean, then compressed air if available. At idle only a small amount of gas to ignite - small/weak spark ok. Open throttle more gas, need strong spark needed or it's extinguished. Fouling on plugs can get there from poor combustion especially from old bad fuel.

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Can you turn the crank at all by hand?  Your "backfiring"knocking may have been an internal mechanical failure.  It will run on one cylinder, but poorly, and will seem smoother at lower rpm's.  Once shut off, there may be something solidly hung up internally.  If you can turn it by hand, then that is not necessarily the case.  When you say it wont start, does it try?  A click or can you hear the starter trying to engage?  

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