Now that all is back to normal I can tell the tale without extreme embarrassment.
I recommend this mower but I wanted to caution people not to do what I did!
After some research I bought this one. I was going to buy one from the big box hardware store, until I realized I could get the same mower for less money, delivered to my door for free, from Amazon. In fact I could get a model I couldn't buy in the store.
This model has a Honda motor, and is push only. My lawn is small and self propelled mowers are heavy, more complex, and horsepower is wasted driving the wheels while it crushes your flowers. Besides I'm a Honda fanboy.
Brand new mower. UPS delivered and I took it out of the box. Shiny.
The mower comes with a tag on the fuel cap that says to put the oil in first before using the mower. However I guess I got distracted preparing to mow the lawn the first time, after removing the gas cap to take off that tag I poured the oil into the gas tank! I thought I ruined the new mower before I ever used it.
After about half the bottle of oil glugged in, I woke up and realized what I was doing. Quickly I stopped pouring the oil. I hadn't put any gas in the tank yet. I did a little online reading and this is what I did next. I didn't have to do all complex things some websites said.
- Flipped the mower over and let the oil drain out of the gas tank back though the cap hole. Since there was no other oil or gas in the mower yet, flipping it over was not a problem. Do this as quick as you can.
- Wiped out the tank with a paper towel using a stick to move it around and soak up the oil until I couldn't see any more.
- Bought more oil and put it in the right place this time
- Filled up the gas tank with actual gas this time
- Tried to start the mower. This took about 10-15 minutes of pulling and resting. Resetting the choke each time. No response for a while. Seemed dead. Started to think I was toast.
- Eventually I heard a little blub blub after each pull. Kept going.
- Trick was to hold the choke. This model has a little choke you set that releases as soon as you pull the cord. Easiest if you have another person to help but I didn't want to tell anyone what I did so I had to pull, hold the handle and reach over and hold the choke.
- More and more blub blub blub each time I tried to start it.
- Mower finally fired up and blew lots of smoke and ran really rough for a few seconds. This is OK, it is the oil burning off. Stalled
- Repeated and held the choke to keep it going a little longer each time.
- Once the oil was cleared all was good and it ran normally. Let it run for 10 minutes to settle in.
I've used the mower half a dozen times since then, and everything is fine. I didn't have to tell my wife I wrecked the brand new mower because I'm a bone head. It didn't cost anything to fix either, other than the cost of a new bottle of oil, since i wasted the bottle it came with.