Thank you for all your responses. The line that was giving me unexpected results was something like:
PRINT '00100'[1,3]:'0000' + 0
which prints 0010 and not 10000. I over generalised the problem when I posted to the list by ommiting the :'0000'. It now turns out that this was a (visually) tricky operator precedence issue and everything else works as expected.
I ought to have done PRINT ('00100'[1,3]:'0000') + 0 to get 10000 as the result.
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