This model tractor seems to suffer from a weak manual steering gear box. I knew this from other online reviews prior to purchase. As it turns out, the steering shaft has integral bearing races (both upper and lower bearings). When you replace the bearings, all you are replacing is the balls with open cage assembly unless you buy a new steering shaft and or new gearbox, which forms the opposite side of the bearing's race.
To me, this is a design flaw in that you can't simply replace a bearing as a sealed unit, gaining new races in the process. Unfortunately, this "design flaw" is directly proportionate to the unit's reliability. the issue seems to be worn race(s) on the steering shaft over time.
The best way to check a 1700 before you buy is to watch the steering wheel closely. As you turn from side to side with the wheel, watch for the wheel to raise and lower slightly in relation to the dash. Any up or down movement will indicate wear in the steering at the bearing(s).
Aside from this issue. The tractor has plenty of capability!