Mittineague - excellent questions. I had to go back to my work computer and realized that some strings were coming from the database, and while I have no control over what's in the database I can certainly control what comes out. Seems basic at first, but trust me, the code is rather complex in that I'm taking a SOAP string from an external client (no control there), going against out database to pull records, converting the results to a 270 file structure, etc. So the database part is resolved, but the strings coming in from external clients I have no control over and could still need to be parsed.
As to your other questions, there are always 31 fields coming in and yes, the order is predetermined, and there are no escapes.
mickyginger - you're right about the spaces (input.split(' ')), but that's just the way I typed it. No, there aren't spaces. But your pattern works beautifully (with minor tweaking for empty values).
So, I declare this resolved - THANKS!!!!!