Well the MovieClipLoader class is the way to do it more reliably. I've never not had it work.
You mention server troubles. I'm wondering if an error is actually happing? Have you implemented an error event handler? That might explain the not loading bit.
As for showing at the original size...I've never had the onLoadInit event not be able to access properties. A fairly common issue is that folks "reuse" a loading container that has already been scaled. In that case the first thing in the onLoadInit event handler should be to put the x and y scales back to 100 and then execute the resize code.
Other than that I'm guessing it is a problem with your code somehow.
Thanks. Your reusing container comment sparked something. I was calling that many times but the target movie clip wasn't being passed correctly so it was trying to use the container incorrectly.
thanks for the help
Glad that worked out for you.