I close my damper 100% closed during burn cycles (which really means 90% because of the holes in it) , I use it for a couple other things as well #1 to create vac/draft prior to shake/poke down (to force fly ash up instead of out the lower door) #2 to make a blast furnace effect by opening bottom door and opening damper just prior to fill and a few minutes after fill (this helps maintain stove top temps and burn off volatiles to prevent a "blow back" because I dont play by the normal rules of add, lil, add lil , nor do I ensure leaving a cavity for flames to get through the coal bed.... but ive been doing this a long time)
damper, baro use and how YOU best utilize one, the other or both is totally on YOU and YOUR draft, chimney & environment (everyone has an opinion and we can tell you what WE do with our damper and/or Baro but thats only as examples to give you some idea).
I like to see on Crane's to temp gauge on the top plate if all possible (it can be placed off center so you can still place a big potpourri water pot their also). Top Temp ranges on a 202 can go pretty high if you keep your ash area from clogging (no cast liner to worry about), but keeping it between 300-500 enables long burns. The rear of your stove sounds like it has a blower shroud and blower? Its not the best place to gauge temps #1 its a double layer #2 your at times cooling it artificially. The blower is likely a Fasco 1 speed and these are still available direct from Fasco for around $200. (Ouch!) lol
You can use the search function in the upper right of this page to type in anything from "How to reduce ash" to "temps for stove" to "how to shake and load stove", etc.
I hope this helps and im glad you love your stove, my dad is surly smiling down from above