To help with 3.
Dump the original (or backup) disc using imgburn
for Windows (or cdrdao
for linux) and save image to .bin format. Burn the .cue/.bin file at low speed like 2x using dark CD-R media for best results (eg. blue or green).
If the disc still fail to load try tilting the PSX 90 degrees and see if it loads ok while holding it "sideways". If it works by tilting the console the laser needs to be calibrated, you can find info how to do that here