I spray painted everything black for uniform purposes. Once I put it all back together it fit back in just fine and now the full panel with the extra padding is perfectly comfortable.
What I like about this is that I've basically created a one-step removable frame for this bag. The bag itself is not the best quality. I'll be the first to admit that. But the frame is solid. And the frame is 90% of what makes this bag work. So if the bag starts to fray/fall apart/get ruined, all I have to do is spend the $15 on Amazon for another one and drop the frame into it with minimal work.
I talked a family member into buying those straps I posted above for me as an early Christmas gift. They should be here Mon/Tues. If they snap on as easily as I hope they do, I've got a wonderfully serviceable 12-disc backpack that I can replace the core even every year with just a small cost.