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So FYI two companies made Sharks back in the day; Model Power which are junk, and Roco which are pretty good. Normally anyway.
I was going to suggest just replacing the motor outright once gearing was eliminated as being the cause.
As to a suitable replacement... In this case it's hard to say because you want to keep that weight, so the motor casing diameter is important. A flywheel or no flywheel will matter only for smooth slow speed; which your son may or may not be doing?

EDIT: If nothing else, hang on to those plastic casing caps. If you opt for a more compact motor, those could serve as "mounts" for the overhead weight with just a bit of JB Weld or something holding them in place.

As to paint stripping the shell; there are suggestions in the painting section of the forum. I recommend Scalecoat Wash Away; although it's not something kids should be able to get at. I'll let you investigate that area of the forum rather than repeat that info here.
 
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