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This article, which includes some fascinating history about outboard motors, comes from Ivar Rudi
Outboard motors for boats were developed as a self-contained unit with engine systems and a propeller. They are mounted at the stern or rear of the boat and are the most common way to propel small boats. An outboard motor provides steering controls and is designed to pivot and control the orientation of the propeller.
Acting as a rudder rather the propeller provides power; the transmission leg stays in the water. When boats are about to enter shallow water or be taken out of the water the outboard motor should be tipped forward over the mount to elevate the propeller and take the transmission shaft out of water. This will avoid getting too much seaweed or hitting rocks that could possibly damage the boat’s motor.
As for the history of outboard motors, a Norwegian–American inventor named Ole Evinrude in 1909 created the first outboard motor. Most outboards have two-stroke cycle engines because they are so simple and reliable. They are also low cost and have high power-to-weight ratios. It is important that you watch the weight, especially weight that is near the stern. Boats will have their handling impeded if you don’t pay attention to the distribution of weight in the boat.
The two-stoke cycle engine has high emissions and causes some environmental concerns that have added cost to the development of the technology. That is why some people tend to go for the four-stroke cycle outboard motor. It has met all expectations based on emissions standards and fuel. It costs less for these motors and to run them. However, weight issues are more important in a four-stroke cycle so you have to pay attention to what’s in the boat and where.
Some of the companies that make outboard motors are Mercury, Briggs and Stratton, Evinrude, Johnson, Honda, Yamaha, Mariner, Nissan, Suzuki, OMC and there are other smaller and lesser known companies that make outboard motors.
Many people who have a boat with an outboard motor use it to fish on a lake. Since most boats have to be small to have an outboard motor, it is not used too often for boating. They are nice to have instead of having to paddle, but you should always have paddles on board because your motor may overheat or stop running. Instead of getting stuck on the lake, it’s best to have a back-up plan, even if your outboard motor has consistently shown durability.