Older Raleighs can be classy bikes that ride great. I recently re-built my girlfriend's dad's '84 Raleigh Marathon into a comfy, classy tourer, and it turned out great.
They can also be headaches at times (like any retro bike).
There are lots of resources on the web to help you identify the bike. The late Sheldon Brown has lots of info on Raleighs
, and lots of other great info (click through the articles in the yellow box at the bottom of the page). There are other catalog sites, including the 80s-90s UK catalogs, on the web. The reason to ID your bike is so you can decide what standards the frame has (what speeds, what type of attachments, mounts, etc.). You can modify the bike from there once you know where you're starting from; some retro stuff is totally compatible with modern stuff, some retro stuff is incompatible.
You could also post pictures of the bike to the Classic & Vintage: What's it worth?
section of this forum.
You have to decide which vintage parts you can refurbish and keep, and which you should replace. I ended up keeping the cranks, BB, stem, and handlebars, and replacing almost everything else.
I overhauled the bearings in the BB and headset.
I used quality, used stuff for the derailers, shifters, seatpost, and pedals.
Then I got new wheels, cassette, chain, tires, tubes, bar wrap, fenders, and a Brooks saddle.
He ended up with a very classy, lugged steel bike for about $550. And it's HIS bike, from 30 years ago, which is mega-cool. He rode a weeklong 430 mile tour on it with my GF and I last month (RAGBRAI
For help with servicing and maintenance, Park Tool
has a huge help section with tons of info and videos. Look in your community for a "bike co-op", "community bike shop", or whatever that concept is called in the UK. They should have used parts, tools, and people to help you work on your bike. I took a basic maintenance class at my local co-op, and have learned a lot more while volunteering there.