Since you had collapse issues (though it also sounds like you needed to make the pack taller than the pattern for your torso length), I'm curious how you were using this for your frame? Or what else did you put into the frame pockets on the back?
replaced these with 1" closed cell foam in the shoulders
Yikes! That's way too much as you found out.
[*]The bottom of the pack is wider to allow for storing the tent bag
Actually, it's that way to just stuff the sleeping bag. The tent should be higher up in your pack.
[*]Finally, and not sure how / where to do this, maybe on the outside of the section where the tent stores, or on the back mesh area. I need a small, clear, pouch to store permits, something that can be seen without removing the bag and opening it.
Seems like a waste for something so specific that will be used so little.