No, just take the starter off and see if you can move the fan with the pawl on it.
Did that... seems that there's no play.
If one or both of the bearings have to much vertically play in them,
the air gap would be off between the magnets and the coil. You might get a great spark one rotation,weak spark or no spark at all.
Shall I check the coil and flywheel ??
I found the "flywheel" in the schematic, but it doesn't show where it's located on the blower. I'm going to assume, opposite side of starter on crankshaft - and behind fan assembly.
Schematic for flywheel; (click here)
Schematic for fan; (click here)
... or does anyone have a better 'drawing' of the motor to show placement?