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In depth idiot
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...the magnetic ring around the core had been cracked and is extremely brittle. a chucked the faulty bit out and ended up ordering another chassis which said it was in working order, but when i received it i saw that it also has those same cracks, and I'm wondering if it actually has any affect on the running or not...
Typically when a permanent magnet fractures, it creates a pair of new poles on the fracture. That's probably not going to help the motor's reliable starting and power output. (If I sound a little uncertain, it's because I have no idea of the original intended poles of this ring magnet...)

Really, exactly as Kris has suggested, this is a very dated product, and was very much a cost down item when new. It's more than the magnet that can fail, a few years ago I looked at a Lima J50 for a friend, which shares the same mechanism; and the plastic chassis was deforming, stopping the wheels going round smoothly. I think you would very much have to love these old things to punt any money on them...
 
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