Just as I was adjusting the front rod brakes, one of the guide posts on the stirrup snapped clean off, effectively rendering my bicycle without front brakes. They were working ok before and hitting the rim fairly evenly (rod brakes are not self centering like cable brakes). I should have left them alone but I couldn't resist fiddling; I was bending the stirrup using a wrench on the guide post which snapped with very little force, not happy Jan!
Another way of looking at it is that it's better that it snapped now than if I was going downhill at 35km/h leaving me with only the rear brake. The rear brake is more like a speed modulator than a brake, even though it's setup reasonably well. I'm not too confident it alone could actually slow me to a stop going down some of the hills in south London.
I still can't believe the post snapped off so easily, I actually managed to shear through one of the bolts on the rear brake with very little force as well. I have a suspicion that the metallurgy of bolts on Raleighs from this era is pretty poor, as bolts should be very difficult to shear with a 6" long wrench. I had the same experience with my Raleigh Twenty, which was from the 70's as well, I managed to do the shear right through a few bolts on that too. I don't consider myself ham-fisted (well I would like to think not) because usually bolt heads will round out before you can shear the tops off them in my experience.
Anyway, I jumped straight on ebay and ordered a NOS Raleigh front brake stirrup setup with new pads, not too expensive at £15 including shipping, it should arrive next week. As soon as I'm settled in to London I'm definitely going to at least build up a front drum setup, I totally need a dependable and SAFE bike to ride around.