Lawnmower problem--Help?

Several weeks ago my lawn mower started giving me problems. When I pull on the rope to start it, I get an excessive amount of resistance. Sometimes mid-pull the rope just stops moving (resulting in a situation where I just about break my arm). On top of that, frequently when the rope does make a full pull, I get an extreme 'jerk' back towards the mower (I thought I broke my hand because several times it pulled it back against the handle bar.) As a result, I can't start the mower any more.
I took it to a repair shop shortly after it began exhibiting these problems. I paid the guy about $50 and he told me that he replaced the spark plug and did some work on a part of the engine. I don't remember if he used any technical names (I don't think he did), but the jist of what he said was that the part that the pull cord attaches to in the motor wasn't lining up correctly with what it needed to. (He said it was off by about a quarter of a turn.) He said that he adjusted the alignment, saw no other problems, tested it, and everything worked fine.
When he started it in the shop, it worked great. When I took it home, it started up for me, too, but it still didn't seem like it was back to 'perfect' condition. The next time I mowed (a week later), it was OK, but I got a bit of recoil. Fast forward 2 weeks--here I am with the exact same problem I started with.
I plan to take the mower back to the original guy, since I hope he'll stand behind the work he did. But he's closed now.
I did an online search for what this problem might be and came up dry. Anyone have any experience with a problem like this?
The mower is about 3 years old, lives in a garage when not in use, and is pretty well cared for. The motor is a Briggs and Stratton. The mower itself is a Scott that I bought at Home Depot.
Anything anyone can tell me about this would be greatly appreciated.
Tony
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I discussed this same problem recently with a neighbor. We both experienced this with B&S engines and he was familiar with another neighbor who had the same problem The rope attaches to a reel that has a spring winder. When you pull the rope there are two arms that extend and engage a hub. Pulling the rope therefore causes the hub to turn and the engine to turnover and hopefully start. When you run out of rope and the centrifugal force stops, the arms are suppose to retract and disengage from the engine. The spring allows the reel to rewind the rope. If the arms don't retract, the rope is ripped from your hand as you have experienced. I don't think the spark plug has anything to do with the problem.
If you locate the engine model number, you can go to the B&S or Sears parts sites and order either individual parts or an entire reel assembly. If your mower is like mine, you have to drill out four rivets to get to the parts. You will then have to put it back on with some new rivets. I hate when they make things that you can't easily repair. It can be tricky to get the spring rewound right, so you may find yourself at a repair shop anyway. As I recall, the entire reel assembly for mine was around $40.
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the flywheel key is sheered it throws teh timing out and when you pull it over the engine if working against your pulling effort.

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I took it in to a different repair place today. That's pretty much what they said they thought (prior to actually inspecting the mower).
I told them about the other repair place. They said that the flywheel key might be damaged in a minor way and the last place didn't think it needed to be replaced.
Tony
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On Wed, 11 Aug 2004 17:58:06 -0500, "Tony"

I know you said it is three years old, but figure on the number of hours of use. Getting lose to 250 hours? If so, a Briggs & Stratton engine is nearing the end of its life and not worth the time/money to fix it.
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When you pull the rope you turn a pully connected to the driveshaft via a clutch that has small metal balls and a toothed wheel. Over time the balls wear grooves in the toothed wheel and the clutch fails. On a briggs engine the part retails for around 20$ and there is a special socket for removing it but a pipe wrench will unscrew it.
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