Kris Model Trains were manufactured and sold by Andy Kriswalus (1927-90) of Endicott, New York from
1968 to 1982. Kris made boxcars, gondolas, refrigerator cars, stock cars, track, and railroad logoed coasters.
He also made and sold reproduction Bild-A-Loco motors.
Andy Kriswalus, who had worked at IBM and was an avid collector of Lionel trains,
purchased much of the tooling from Kusan/KMT in 1967 when the company went out of business.
Kusan had its beginnings in Nashville, TN but had moved operations to Mexico in order to reduce costs. Kriswalus actually
travelled to Mexico to make the acquisition. Shortly thereafter, he began producing a line of 'O' gauge rolling stock
under the Kris Model Trains name. Kris Model Trains, also called KMT, only produced the box, stock, gondolas and
refrigerator cars from the original Kusan dies, in a very wide assortment of road names and liveries, most emphasizing
and representing north-eastern and central US based rail roads and branch lines. Initially the cars were spray painted
in their base colors and then the graphics and heralds were screenprinted. Later on, KMT used special decals known as
electrocals. On many of these cars Kris mounted die-cast trucks made from the original Kusan tooling. Lionel trucks with
operating knuckle couplers were also utilized on the freight cars. All cars were assembled by hand. In the late 1960's as
Lionel train production faded and the company filed bankruptcy, it was an opportune time for Kriswalus to issue his 'O'
gauge offerings so that model train operators had new products to consume. Business remained good, even after Fundimensions
restarted Lionel 'O' gauge freight car production with newer road name offerings.
Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge Rail Line 40' Box Cars
Kris box cars were the same full 'O' scale models of 40' prototype box cars that
Kusan, and AMT before them, had produced from the very same molds. These cars were
slightly longer and higher than a Lionel post-war #6464-series box car. At some point, a switch was made
from die-cast car frames to stamped steel, as a cost cutting measure, and to keep up with such changes
in manufacturing processes being made elsewhere within the model train industry. In addition to the high
impact styrene box cars, stock cars, gondolas and reefers made in 'O' Scale from the Kusan Model Trains dies, Andy
Kriswalus made replacement frames for Lionel standard gauge and 'O' gauge locos. Eventually Kriswalus developed his
own box car tooling so he could fabricate shells with smooth sides, facilitating easier decoration.
Kris 'O' gauge Refrigerator Cars
The refrigerator cars made by Kris came with a coin slot in the roof, and were
sometimes referred to as bank cars instead of as reefers.
Kris Model Trains 'S' gauge freight cars
In late 1969, Hobby Surplus shipped 3000 Lionel/MPC S gauge Gilbert
American Flyer car shells, molded with the original American Flyer dies, to
Kris Model Trains where they were professionally spray painted by Andy Kriswalus with
many new road names, similar to the patterns of the Kris 'O' gauge line. Reefers, Boxcars and Triple Bay Hoppers were
included in this lot. An ad appeared 3 or 4 times in the S Gauge Herald from winter of 1970 through the spring of
1971 offering these repainted Gilbert S gauge cars from Kris Model Tains of Endicott, NY in the new railroad designs
of ACY, Burlington Northern, N&W, Erie, B&O, Southern, PFE, Penn Central, Jersey Central, Hershey, UP,
CN Evergreen, Great Northern, Lackawana, Reading, Illinois Central, NYC, Santa Fe, Southern Pacific, L&N, and
Milwaukee Road for $5.00 each, or $25 for 5 different road names, with Pikemaster trucks and couplers. Or $6.00 each with
American Flyer knuckle couplers. Bodies only with brake wheels could be purchased for $4.00 each.
Kris 'O' gauge Gondolas
Kris was known for producing short runs of custom decorated cars for train clubs, civic organizations, retailers,
hobby associations, consumer goods and businesses. For the 1970
TCA National Convention hosted by the Midwest Division there were 2 Kris convention cars produced. One was a white 1970
calendar 40' box car with black lettering and brown sliding doors with '1970' and 'Flyertown' printed in silver
lettering on the doors, and the other car was a white 1970 calendar box car with black lettering and light red
doors (only 20 were made). Flyertown was the theme of the 1970 TCA convention. Kris then produced a TCA Anniversary
Jersey Central box car in blue with gold and white lettering for the METCA division in 1971. They followed up with
a TCA 1972 Pittsburg National Convention car. In 1973 Kris Model Trains
produced 300 Vermont Railway #12273 commemorative green box cars for the TCA NETCA Division. In 1974 Kris created another
box car for the TCA Midwest Division. Only 200 of these cars were produced. Also in 1974, KMT produced 300 NY, NH & HRR
#12174 commemorative maroon box cars for the NETCA Division. Kris Model Trains produced a Florida East Coast Railway 40'
box car in blue with gold lettering for the TCA Southern Division in 1975. For the 23rd TCA National Convention held in
Houston and hosted by the Lone Star Division in 1977, Kris produced a box car in orange with a silver roof. In 1987, blanks
originally produced by Kris Model Trains were utilized by the NETCA Division for another short run of 144 Guilford,
Boston & Maine #12687 grey and orange 40' box cars painted by Seymour Knight and his Pleasant Valley
Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge Train Collectors Association 40' Box Cars
Kris Model Trains also produced cars for the Toy Train Operators Society (TTOS) and several of
its divisions in 1973, 1977, 1979 and 1981 to commemorate conventions and as fund raisers.
Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge Toy Train Operators Society 40' Box Cars
Kris produced cars for many companies that had nothing to do with railroading, but that wanted a toy box car
to give out to employees, or as promotional items to give to customers. They also did many special runs for Hobby Shops
and museums. Kris even created a box car for the Boy Scouts of America. In the mid 1970's, custom
decorated Kris KMT box cars in quantity could be obtained for as little as $12 each, with a minimum order of 40
cars. Major manufacturers such as Lionel, would not take orders for such small quantities.
Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge Special Run 40' Box Cars
Andy Kriswalus obtained 300 sets of 'O' gauge extruded aluminum passenger car kits from
Williams Trains, assembled and re-decorated them as Ringling Brothers circus cars.
The cars included a Pullman and an observation. In 1974 Lionel introduced its 'O' gauge Coca Cola train set, which was
designed and developed through the efforts of Andy Kriswalus. It was Kriswalus who came up with the idea to create the
set, and who had gotten Coca Cola and Lionel to become interested. Initially the Coca Cola set was going to be produced
exclusively for Kriswalus' Endicott, NY based company, but after discussions it was agreed that the set would be
made and sold by Lionel for all to enjoy. Starting in 1976, Kris Model Trains began to supply undecorated
ABS plastic freight cars to Newbraugh Brothers Toy Trains/Pleasant Valley Process Co. of
Berkeley Springs West Virginia.
Although Kris Model Trains never issued locomotives, it is widely believed that Andy Kriswalus
was evaluating the potential and experimenting with some original designs. In the fall of 1975 KMT moved their
production facilities to a new location. KMT also made lots of tubular track in both 'O' and Standard gauges.
In 1976 Kriswalus was the first to produce 6' diameter (wide radius) Standard gauge 3-rail track. The Kris Model
Trains track is distinguished by the letters KMT stamped on the ties.
Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge Refrigerated Beer 40' Box Cars
In addition to producing his own line, Kriswalus also operated a very large wholesale distributorship
for Lionel products called the Railroad Depot. Andy Kriswalus often utilized subcontractors to decorate and paint
the ABS plastic molded blanks for
the freight cars that he produced. Frank Rash of Frank’s Roundhouse, also known as Custom
Trains of Wilkes-Barre PA was one of those subcontractors that Kris Model Trains used. Initially, the cars decorated
by Frank were delivered as contracted to Andy to sell packaged in Andy’s red, blue and white logoed KMT/Kris Model
Trains boxes. In 1980 Andy suffered a severe heart attack and was no longer able to produce his cars. Frank Rash
took over production of the rolling stock using the Kris equipment and sold them under his own label. As a result,
the cars made by Frank's Roundhouse are often mis-identified as KMT/Kris Model Trains even though Andy Kriswalus
was no longer involved in their production. Frank's Roundhouse mostly sold their cars in plain no-name white boxes
with identifying information rubber stamped in dark gray on one end label of those boxes.
Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge Private Owner 40' Box Cars
There are several ways to distinguish the actual Kris Model Trains
produced cars from the Frank’s Roundhouse produced cars. As stated earlier, the Kris cars are found with the AMT and Kusan
type die-cast trucks and couplers or with Lionel tab type metal couplers and trucks. The Frank's Roundhouse cars are
never found with AMT or Kusan type die-cast trucks or couplers. While they are found with many different types of trucks,
including plastic Lionel MPC, die-cast sprung trucks and plastic Bettendorf trucks with or without brake shoes.
Also, Frank Rash added realistic distinguishing features previously not used on KMT/AMT-molded box cars. These unique
markings were reporting marks placed on the ends of the cars and dimensional data stamped on the box car doors. Frank’s
Roundhouse also tended to produce many of the same rail road liveries in multiple road numbers. The Frank's Roundhouse
NYC Pacemaker box car was issued in 21 different road numbers.
Kris 'O' gauge Stock Cars
Kris Model Trains rolling stock tended to be produced in multiple colors and variations, with some
cars being made in single runs or even single quantities. It is almost impossible to know how many of each car were
actually produced. Some are common and tend to turn up frequently at train meets or in on-line auctions. Some however,
are very rare and highly collectible. At some point, the original AMT and Kusan tooling that had been in Andy Kriswalus'
possession was sold to Williams Electric Trains and Jerry Williams then sold some of the
tooling to K-Line, who continued to use it to produce parts of their budget toy train lines.
Williams F-7's and K-Line Alco FA shells were
made from original AMT and Kusan tooling. Some K-Line freight cars were made using the Kusan K-series molds. The Williams
40' box cars made from original AMT tooling were referred to as the Crown Series models. These cars are recognizable as
they have a stamped metal frame with a fishbelly, and a brake cylinder on the under carriage. The sliding doors have the
single large square and single small square, just like the AMT designed car. Bachmann continued
to make and sell these box cars after the acquisition of Williams. K-Line shadow rail track also originated from Kusan O42
track tooling. Andy Kriswalus passed away in September 1990. His wife, Janet Barbara Kriswalus, who he had met while
working at IBM in 1956 and married in 1958, had eventually become the secretary for the train business.
Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge Special Run 40' Holiday Themed Box Cars