I have some Sturmy 3 speed wheels, I was thinking about replacing the rims so i didnt have to use the 26 1 3/8 tires which it uses. I counted the spokes on the current wheels and there were 40 spokes! is that normal or am i crazy??
Furthermore there are no markings on the rims but if i used 26" rims i would probably be ok? I figure 700s would need a large fork or something.
40 hole rear was very common on British bikes (matched to a 32-hole front) until they adopted the "Continental" mode of 36-36. If you want to use something other than the EA-3 rim (I assume you now have) and go to alloy, look for some 650A rims, they are the same diameter. 650B are just a bit smaller, and would probably fit, but you won't find them cheap.
Sheldon has all the info in a compact form; http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html