New "u"ds recently finished... Seeking some advice/tips
I recently started and finished my first "u"ds mostly in thanks to the forums on this website. The u is in parentheses as I believe it is far prettier than I expected it to be going into the project taking into account my lack of experience and tools. The pictures are at the bottom. The first is one I took the morning after I burned and painted it, the second was taken after I added some exhaust stacks and tried my hand at the first smoke.
At this point the exterior thermometer is just for show since I discovered a thermometer with a small probe like that doesn't do much good to measure temperatures in such a large chamber where the fire basket is in the middle. I found this out after burning a few sausages in an hour and a half of smoking them that should have taken me a total 3 hours according to various forum posts on here and other websites. I have since invested in a digital remote thermometer that has a meat probe and a dedicated smoker thermometer that can clip to just beneath the grate.
I have attempted Italian sausage again today and am concerned that it took less than an hour to reach cooking temperature. I kept them in until they reached 170F since I was stubbornly trying to keep them in for as long as possible. I was aiming for 250 smoker temp and, since I don't know the temperature spikes from opening the lid that well yet it ended up maxing out at 271 before gradually dropping back down below 250 over about 10-15 minutes when I closed the ball valve all the way. I'm hoping that the meat thermometer was just reading a mix of the meat and the chamber and that the sausages were just undercooked when I took them out? The casings looked done (as in the color of hotdogs) and the insides seemed only slightly raw and certainly tasted fine. I left the meat thermometer in the one dead center as the smoker was going since I didn't want to have to worry about temperature spikes with such a short cook. Are accurate temperature readings with a meat thermometer something ill have to worry about with less thick items like ribs? I'm hoping to smoke a butt pretty soon once I move into a new place so that should give me a pretty good idea of what a thicker cut will do but when I do something like ribs ill need to know the temperature for sure.
This is a pretty disorganized post so I apologize for that and any questions who's answers may have been searchable in advance. Thanks in advance as well for anyone who can answer my questions that I can't seem to word concisely.