The other day I was out riding my old Raleigh 10-speed when I hit a bit of a doozy of a bump. The front wheel survived just fine, but the rear wheel didn't. Immediately after the hit the rear was making a 'clack, clack, clack' sound and I saw that the rim (on one side) was pooched out about 1/2" over an area of about 1" of the rim. The wheel, surprisingly did not appear to have gone out of true however, I didn't check it too closely.
I've read in some books that those old steel rims are prone to this happening and it's just as easy to just hammer the dent back into place. That's one option, however, I was wondering if that was going to #1 weaken the rim and #2 never be a straight braking surface again.
Should I just replace the rim? According to these forums it sounds like it would be good just to replace the steel rims with aluminum ones (like the ones on Harris Cyclery for $99.95 a pair for a whole new wheelset). Or maybe just replace the rim alone.
If simple hammering is a better option, what is a good technique for getting the rim as close to its original shape as possible that someone may have used in the past?
Thanks for the help...