Making a Replacement Dishwasher Basket Wheel

Someone, quite probably our 3 year old Henry, was monkeying with the dishwasher basket (or whatever the heck that part is called) and one of the wheels came loose while the machine was working. I found it partially melted against the heating element of the Dishwasher when I unloaded the machine. I could have just chucked it and accepted that the basket might wobble, or I could have gone through the process of tracking down a replacement if one could be bought without buying the entire assembly. What I chose to do was make a replacement on my Taig lathe. I chose HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) because it was the only plastic rod I had that was of the required diameter (actually slightly larger) and food safe. I took the melted wheel, popped it off the axle (getting a blood blister on my thumb in the process, don't ask...) and made some quick measurements using the surface plate, height gage, calipers and pin gages. The tolerances were loose, but it never hurts to get things exact... I sawed off a chunk of the HDPE on my 4x6 bandsaw and got to work:

The melted wheel removed from the axle. I first used pliers (hence the blood blister on my thumb) but quickly learned that I could press the axle out with the arbor press and a pin punch.
The HDPE blank faced flat on both ends, held in the 3 jaw chuck. The soft jaws have a slight dovetail that bites into the plastic. HDPE is very slippery and if I took too heavy a cut it would still try and come loose from the chuck. The drill has a combined drill/countersink for starting the axle hole.
Drilling the 3/8" axle hole with a screw length drill. The tolerances were loose enough that a drilled hole would suffice.
The depth stop set with the aid of a dial indicator, for turning down the stem of the wheel.
Turning down the stem.
The toolbit set to chamfer the end of the stem. The axle hole was countersunk a bit to chamfer the ID.
The part reversed in the chuck, grabbed by the stem. The part is again slippery so light cuts were also in order.I turned the OD to match the melted wheel, and again set the depth stop with the aid of the dial indicator. I then took cuts along the length to bring the width of the wheel down to match the melted one.
The recess in the wheel is bored with a boring tool
The replacement wheel with all essential features matching the old one.
The replacement wheel (lefthand wheel on the basket) ready for work! The whole thing took about a half an hour including thinking time.

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