The timing belt was due at 60,000 miles, and I'm now 9555 over that. So, two months ago (8/29/2003) I started the process of replacing the timing belt, and while I was in there, eliminating the silent shafts (also called balance shafts) and all the associated hardware (sprocket, belt, pulley, etc). Since I'm working in the parking lot of my apartment complex, the work schedule was dictated by the weather and the mood of my neighbors (I have quite possibly the coolest neighbors in existance, and only after a month and a half did one of the newer residents complain about the car being on jackstands). So, work went VERY slowly.
A few words of advice for the weekend mechanic wanting to take on this job: leave the front balance shaft in the car. Yes, it's more "complete" to take it out. No, you do not want to try and do it; it took an incredible amount of effort and, eventually, a hacksaw to get the front shaft out. That, in turn, made extracting the front balance shaft bearings extremely difficult, since you need the front shaft (turned backwards) to beat out the inner bearing. The only really required removal is the rear shaft, which came out easily with the front case/oil pump.
This project steamrolled into quite a few additional changes; every weekend, I'd find something else either broken or not to my satisfaction. In the end, the car has received a new front case/oil pump, water pump, timing belt tensioner, timing belt tensioner pulley, alternator, timing belt, accessory belts, and all the related gaskets. And, to add a little horsepower and bling, an aluminum pulley set from Unorthodox Racing. Don't forget the usual oil change (10W30 Mobil1 and an OEM 3000GT oil filter), and because I had to pull the driver-side axle to get a little breathing room, I had to replace the transmission fluid as well (Pennzoil Synchromesh; same stuff as the GM version, but cheaper).
On Sunday (11/02/2003), after a morning of working in the rain, I finally completed putting the whole affair back together. I turned it over and...nothing. Oops, forgot to press the clutch. Depress the clutch, turn the key, and after a sluggish couple of attempts (the battery had been sapped pretty badly from the downtime), it turned over. A couple of blips to the gas, and it settled into a dead perfect idle. Except, of course, for the oil and coolant leaking from behind the front case, and the VERY LOUD ticking noise that the plate between the crank sprockets was making from contact with the sensor (no, it's not crankwalk; the plate was slightly bent during the whole process, and I'm suspecting I never got it straightened).
So, after all of that, the car is currently parked at the local Mitsubishi dealership, since they're one of the few places I trust to work on the timing belt and associated parts. I suspect the leak is just a matter of torquing a few bolts down properly, but the weather has sucked any joy I was getting out of this project away; it's just too cold and wet to do the work in a parking lot anymore. I'll update when it's back on the road.
As an interesting data point: when I said "dead perfect idle", I meant it; the removal of the balance shafts appears to have made no difference whatsoever to the vibrations felt in the vehicle, and oil pressure was damn near perfect (despite the leak). Overall, I'm exceptionally happy with the result, and I'll be even happier when I can finally go for a drive after Mitsu corrects my errors.