Slap forehead here...

As I said, I searched for arithmetic of the times asterisk so I did not see the addition example.

Thought the issue of variable substitution was related to the asterisk.

I had been struggling for 2 days on this problem, sometimes the most obvious thing is the hardest to find.

Hmm.. in my defense, if you do a "set variable" of varname equals value, the steps source listing inserts an equals sign

so that looks the same as when you insert the equals sign into the step source yourself.

A newbie gotcha...

Thanks!