I've got an old Raleigh Winner (1980s 10 speed racer) which is perfect in almost every single way for what I need it for (I got given it free, it's very speedy and also looks cool).
However, the brakes are dodgy to say the least. I had to take the rear brake off entirely the other week as the bit that holds the cable in the brake lever fell off (mildly alarming as I was trying to stop at the time!). I haven't replaced it yet as it was basically useless before, should I bother?
In the dry, the front brake is incredibly squeaky but very effective (I adjusted the toe the other week?) In the wet though, it just won't stop and it's bloody frightening! I think the brakes might be cantilevers (they've got two wire spring things on pivoting arms) but they're so useless in the wet! Admittedly, I think the brake blocks are probably as old as the bike, but why are they so bad in the wet compared to the dry? Freewheeling to a stop is nearly as effective (and when/if the brakes do eventually bite, they whole bike vibrates and judders, it's very odd)! The tyres seem to be fine as well.
Would some new brake blocks and/or cables solve the problem (the rims are steel, which apparently makes a difference)? I'm a student so I'm hardly drowning in the dolla and also a bike n00b so I'm not great on the technicalities. What should I do?