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A motorboat, speedboat, or powerboat is a boat which is powered by an engine. Some motorboats are fitted with inboard engines, others have an outboard motor installed on the rear, containing the internal combustion engine, the gearbox and the propeller in one portable unit.
An inboard/outboard contains a hybrid of a powerplant and an outboard, where the internal combustion engine is installed inside the boat, and the gearbox and propeller are outside.
There are two configurations of an inboard, v-drive and direct drive. A direct drive has the powerplant mounted near the middle of the boat with the propeller shaft straight out the back, where a v-drive has the powerplant mounted in the back of the boat facing backwards having the shaft go towards the front of the boat then making a 'V' towards the rear. The v-drive has become increasingly popular due to the wakeboarding and wakesurfing sports.
Motorboats vary greatly in size and configuration, from the 4-meter, open center console type to the luxury mega-yachts capable of crossing an ocean.
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The first boat powered by a petrol engine was tested on the Neckar river by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach in 1886, when they tested their new "longcase clock" engine. It had been constructed in the former greenhouse (converted into a workshop) in Daimler's back yard. The first public display took place on the Waldsee in Cannstatt, today a suburb of Stuttgart, at the end of that year.
Although the screw propeller had been added to an engine (steam engine) as early as the 18th century in Birmingham, England by James Watt, the petrol engine only came about in the later part of the 19th century, at which point Frederick William Lanchester recognized the potential of combining the two components to create the first all British powerboat; tested in Oxford, England, the powerboat was born. Late in that same period fishermen in San Francisco were transforming their feluccas into early versions of the Monterey clipper, also known locally as put-puts.
Lanchester began to find the conflict between his job as works manager and his research work irksome. Therefore, in 1893, he resigned his position in favour of his younger brother George. At about the same time, he produced a second engine similar in design to his previous one but running on benzene at 800 r.p.m. An important part of his new engine was the revolutionary carburettor, for mixing the fuel and air correctly. His invention was known as a wick carburettor, because fuel was drawn into a series of wicks, from where it was vapourized. He patented this invention in 1905.
Lanchester installed his new petrol engine in a flat-bottomed launch, which the engine drove via a stern paddle wheel. Lanchester built the launch in the garden of his home in Olton, Warwickshire. The boat was launched at Salter’s slipway in Oxford in 1904, and was the first motorboat built in .
In the United States
The acknowledged genius of motor boat design was the American naval architect John L. Hacker. His pioneering work, including the invention of the 'v-hull' and the use of dedicated petrol engines revolutionized boat design from as early as 1908, when he founded the Hacker Boat Co. In 1911, Hacker designed the ‘Kitty Hawk’, the first successful step hydroplane which exceeded the then-unthinkable speed of 50 mph and was at that time the fastest boat in the world.
- http://media.daimler.com/dcmedia/0-921-1303725-1-1303019-1-0-0-0-0-1-11694-614318-0-1-0-0-0-0-0.html?TS=1302091862634 Daimler AG homepage on Daimler Gedächtnis Stätte in English
- Reuß, H.-J. Automobil und Motorschiff haben dieselben Wurzeln. In: Hansa, issue 2/2011, p. 20–21, Schiffahrts-Verlag Hansa, Hamburg 2011, ISSN 0017-7504
The dictionary definition of motorboat at Wiktionary