i found a beat up conti in my landlord's garage and after not having a bike for 10 years decided to try and make this one mine. i just need to get to the grocery store and library and such, and i dont like to drive... anyway, i put a 700c wheelset and need to put a front brake on. do i try to rework the original brakes, in pretty poor condition (need new pads, cables, levers for sure) or is there a way to find the right set-up to fit this combo? any advice and/or suggestions are greatly appreciated.
Pads, cables (and replace the cable housings) are pretty inexpensive. You could probably find a set of levers for under 20.00. The work isn't hard to do if you're mechanically inclined and have basic tools. That being said, it is the brakes, and you don't want to find out you did it wrong when you're going down hill. Try taking it to a good bike store, and ask them about getting the parts. One near me will cut the cable housing to length, keeping you from having to buy another tool.
I had to scrounge up some longer-reach side-pulls for my Varsity when I put 700c wheels on it. The braking surface is 4mm further out.
ManaKarma, where are you? If you're close enough to someone reading this post I'm sure some brakes could be scrounged up cheap. You can buy them off the Internet but you might find them much cheaper at your local bicycle junk store. There are a couple here in Minneapolis.