Electric shock - why?

I'm after a bit of advice as to why I've just got an electric shock. i have an old but quality lathe with a seperate switch with on/off buttons. The switch has a metal case. The live wire from the plug had chafed and come into contact with the box and when I went to switch it on I got a shock.
The bit I don't understand is why nothing tripped. The live and neutral wires are both wired into the contactor and the earth from the lathe and from the feed from the plug both connect to an earth terminal on the switch casing and were done up tight. The socket in the garage is fed from a dedicated 16 amp breaker in a modern MK consumer unit with an RCD. Should that not have protected me?
I don't understand electricity as well as I should and would be grateful for advice!
Peter.
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PJK wrote on 24/06/2018 :

The RCD will only trip, if sufficient current passes through you, to earth. Possibly there was not a sufficiently low resistance path through you to ground to trip it. Another possibility is that the RCD is faulty or seized up. All are fitted with a test button, does it trip if that button is pressed?
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Harry Bloomfield wrote:

From the description, I assumed the chafed live was touching the earthed case, so shouldn't be waiting for anyone to touch anything before a trip...
Maybe the earth in the garage (exported from the house?) is faulty.
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Also of course, are you absolutely sure that the earth itself is real, IE is the wire at the switch end and the supply end actually connected? You may laugh, but screws have a habit of working loose and wires bent at right angles in a short space can also break if quite old. I had an ally one break to a cooker like this some years ago. There has to be a reason as otherwise when the live shorted and the earth on the box formed a circuit some protection somewhere would have tripped. Brian
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On 24/06/2018 11:31, PJK wrote:

30mA is a modest current for you to feel. I suspect the current you felt was less than this. It shouldn't trip at a current less than 15mA.
It sounds like your lathe has a faulty earth connection. As soon as the live had made contact with the 'box', which I assume is metal and should be earthed, the RCD should ha tripped.
As another poster has suggested, it might be a good opportunity to test your RCD.
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and check the earths. Whoever did the extension to our house didn't connect the earth at the junction box - and the main electrical device in the extension is a washing machine.
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On 24/06/2018 11:55, Fredxx wrote:

A live touching a metal case should also trip a MCB as well as a RCD.
As you said poor earth.
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On 24/06/2018 13:43, ARW wrote:

A live lead touching an earthed case *ought* to have produced a big bang and as you say immediately tripped the MCB. The *only* explanation I can see is that it wasn't earthed properly.

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On 24/06/2018 11:31, PJK wrote:

Yes it should. So it suggests you have one or more faults somewhere.

Generally the way earthing works is to force the supply to disconnect by operating a circuit protective device - typically a fuse, or circuit breaker or RCD. The objective being to limit the duration of any shock you can receive so that its is not long enough cause serious injury.
You also have an additional protection from the RCD. That looks at the current flowing in both live and neutral at the same time, and trips when it sees anything more than a tiny mismatch in those currents (the theory being that if some current is flowing to earth somewhere in the circuit (say from a live switch casing, though you to earth), then it will see and imbalance and trip.
So lets look at the earthing first:
So with your lathe, the metalwork of the whole machine and its switch box should be well connected to earth. When that live wire made contact to the metalwork, you should have had a very large current (often called a "Fault current") flow between live and earth, and that should have tripped an upstream protective device.
So assuming the lathe actually works, it seems likely that you have a good connection on both live and neutral. So the most likely problem is that your earth connection is either broken completely, or is has a high electrical resistance for whatever reason. Its important you find where the fault is, since it is safety critical.
Disconnect the lath from the mains at the plug
You need a basic multimeter to carry out some tests. With the multimeter set to measure resistance, connect one lead to the earth pin (the top one) on the plug, and touch the other to the metal case of the lathe. You should see a nice low resistance - under 1 ohm typically. Check you still keep the good connection when the flex is flexed a bit (its not uncommon for wires to break in the flex where they get lots of movement).
If the flex and plug look good, then it may be the socket or its supply circuit which is faulty.
First a visual check. Turn off the circuit at the CU. Unscrew the socket faceplate and have a peek behind - check the earth connections look good. Give a tug on the wires, and make sure they do not pull out of the terminals. If that looks ok, replace the socket and we need to move on to some electrical tests.
With the mains on, and your multimeter set to measure AC volts (on a range were the maximum voltage is more than 240V), you should be be able to measure 240V (ish) volts between the Live (right hand pin on the socket) and the earth. You will need to use the probe in the earth pin to force open the shutters on the live pins. If you can't, then that suggests that the earth is broken somewhere between the socket and the CU. (and if the socket is part of a ring circuit, then its broken twice!) - if this seems to be the case, post back for detailed advice on finding that.
The RCD
The other question is why did that not trip. There are two likely possibilities: either it is not working correctly, or the shock you received did not actually pass enough current to reach its trip threshold. (its even possible the device installed has too high a trip threshold).
So first step, check the writing on the front of the RCD and make sure it has a 30mA (or 0.03A) trip threshold.
Now verify it really is protecting the circuit the lathe is on by turning it off and machine sure something plugged into the lathe's socket will not work.
Now try the test button - it should trip the RCD immediately. If it does not, it needs replacing.
If all those pass, then its likely the shock current was too small to cause a trip. There are more detailed tests that you can do, but again post back for more if required.
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Cheers,

John.
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On 24/06/2018 12:22, John Rumm wrote:

Very comprehensive advice snipped

Thanks for the detailed answer, very much appreciated. I'll investigate and post back asap.
Peter
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On 24/06/2018 12:22, John Rumm wrote:

Snip detailed advice

Thanks for the detailed answer, very much appreciated. I'll investigate and post back asap.
Peter
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Have you got a DVM? Try measuring the resistance between the metal part where you got the short and the earth pin on the plug. Not a definitive test by any means, but a poor connection between earth lead and the machine metalwork is pretty likely with age.
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On Sun, 24 Jun 2018 11:31:15 +0100, PJK wrote:

I had exactly the same problem. Driving in a separate earth spike through the workshop floor next to the lathe sorted the issue.
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