Nate ...you asked a lot of questions. Don't know if I can remember all of them but her is my "general" answer that should explain things.
My "current thinking" is that
1. biggest problem is bottom of pizza burning/scortching etc. before top gets cooked.
a) "preheat" or "charge" dome as much as possible BEFORE putting the stone / platesetter etc. in there.
b) insulate between the platesetter and the stone. I have spoken to an engineer and he tells me that air is the solution so I use either the 3 little feet as risers or sometimes an inverted aluminum pan.
c) use IR thermo to monitor stone temp.
So, that being said, I load the egg with lump as much almost as I can get in there...this is to try to get longer burn times BUT it also brings the fire closer to the platesetter/baking stone which is a negative ... gets them too hot / etc.
I light the egg and allow it to go nuts for a while in an effort to "charge" the dome ceramics with heat ... of course, this is burning precious fuel.
I thin insert the platesetter (the pizza is already made) and the risers / stone etc. and start monitoring the temp of the stone using the IR thermometer.
When it gets to 500 or so, I pop in the first pizza , flatbread, or whatever ...
Then the trick is to
1. keep the pies coming so the stone does not have a chance to go nuclear ..we've seen 1100 degrees on the stone and dude that burns the pie as soon as it touches it ...just ask people that came to our "turkeyfest" and saw me and my BGE rep dumping wet tee shirts on the stone to try to get it down from 1000 degrees and ask them how the blackened crust was ...
Anyway ..so it's a "balance" ..try to get dome temp up , keep dome temp up, keep stone temp down .. and keep things hot while you still have fuel.
in closing I can tell you that ..
a) it's an imperfect system for sure.
b) I have not come up with a reliable, duplicatable, "standardized" system
c) we are working on this on both an XL and a Large
d) I have a few more tricks (ideas?) to try
e) when you "hit" the "sweet spot" in temps and the pies are coming out perfect ...the next trick is to keep the fire up until you are done because it seems that we start losing temp as soon as we seem to get things "right" .
By the way , we are selling the Caputo flour and other things should anybody out there need an online source .. we also have some of the others though they might not be on the website yet. (KA Sir Lancelot, All Trumps, etc. )
PS ..I just scrolled down and reread some of your questions.
We have been leaving the top and bottom wide open. I did experiment with closing down the top to keep the heat in and also with using an Eggcellerator (fan blower) in the bottom with various top settings but didn't seem to help.
When the thing is hot and "balanced" ..we cook them in a minute or 2.