The timekeeping part of all weight-driven clocks, including large tower clocks, is substantially the same. The figure shows the mechanism of a simple weight-driven timepiece with a pendulum. The frame is made up of two plates that carry the pivots of the various wheels and other moving parts and that are united and spaced by four pillars. The driving weight hangs from a line coiled around a barrel or sprocket, which is raised by turning the winding square or, in some cases, by pulling on the line. The main wheel engages with the centre pinion, on the arbor (axle) of which is also mounted the centre wheel. The front pivot of this wheel and pinion is lengthened to the right of the illustration; it carries the minute hand and part of the gearing necessary to drive the hour hand.
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Any expansion or contraction of the rod caused by changes of temperature will affect the timekeeping of a pendulum; e.g., a pendulum clock with a steel rod will lose one second a day for a rise in temperature of approximately 4 °F (2.2 °C). For accurate timekeeping, the length of the pendulum must be kept as nearly constant as possible. This may be done in several ways, some of which use the differing coefficients of expansion (the amount of expansion per degree change in temperature) of different metals to obtain a cancelling-out effect. In one popular compensation method, the bob consists of a glass or metal jar containing a suitable amount of mercury. The gridiron pendulum employs rods of different metal, usually brass and steel, while in the zinc-iron tube the pendulum rod is made of concentric tubes of zinc and iron. An improved method, however, is to make the pendulum rod from a special alloy called Invar. This material has such a small coefficient of expansion that small changes of temperature have a negligible effect and can easily be compensated for if required.
Although the mechanisms they use vary, all oscillating clocks, mechanical, digital and atomic, work similarly and can be divided into analogous parts.[64][65][66] They consist of an object that repeats the same motion over and over again, an oscillator, with a precisely constant time interval between each repetition, or 'beat'. Attached to the oscillator is a controller device, which sustains the oscillator's motion by replacing the energy it loses to friction, and converts its oscillations into a series of pulses. The pulses are then counted by some type of counter, and the number of counts is converted into convenient units, usually seconds, minutes, hours, etc. Finally some kind of indicator displays the result in human readable form.

The British had predominated in watch manufacture for much of the 17th and 18th centuries, but maintained a system of production that was geared towards high quality products for the elite.[44] Although there was an attempt to modernise clock manufacture with mass production techniques and the application of duplicating tools and machinery by the British Watch Company in 1843, it was in the United States that this system took off. In 1816, Eli Terry and some other Connecticut clockmakers developed a way of mass-producing clocks by using interchangeable parts.[45] Aaron Lufkin Dennison started a factory in 1851 in Massachusetts that also used interchangeable parts, and by 1861 was running a successful enterprise incorporated as the Waltham Watch Company.[46][47]
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