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Kris Model Trains/KMT

Kris Model Trains box logo

History

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 mid-eastern and central US lines that ran in the local vicinity. On many of these cars Kris mounted die-cast trucks made from the Kusan tooling. Lionel trucks 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 Model Trains Akron, Canton & Youngstown #3404 box car Kris Model Trains #6100 REA Express refrigerator car Kris Model Trains Soo Line #42888 box car Kris Model Trains Soo Line #2190 40 foot box car Kris Model Trains Union Pacific #4586 reefer Kris Model Trains #71470 Great Northern blue box car Kris Model Trains #8524 The Alaska Railroad box car Kris Model Trains Union Pacific #392885 Ship & Travel the Automated Rail Way box car Kris Model Trains #12935 Spokane Portland & Seattle Railway box car Kris Model Trains #25517 Pittsburgh & Lake Erie box car Kris Model Trains #1645 Tennessee Alabama & Georgia TAG Route Kris Model Trains Evergreen Freight Car Corporation #2190 box car Kris Model Trains #48659 CB&Q Burlington Route box car Kris Model Trains #800912 New Hope and Ivyland Railroad Kris Model Trains #49812 D & R G W Rio Grande box car Kris Model Trains Southern Railway Gives a Green Light to Innovations #45655 box car Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge Norfolk & Western RR box car #54392 Kris Model Trains #26999 Gulf Mobile & Ohio DF box car Kris Model Trains #274002 Penn Central box car Kris Model Trains Alaska RR #8524 At Your Service box car Kris Model Trains #269 Vermont Railway box car Kris Model Trains #370088 B&O Time Saver Service box car Kris Model Trains Pittsburgh & West Virginia box car #1220 Kris Model Trains Everett Railroad #60011 box car Kris Model Trains #80229 Delaware & Hudson Bridge Line box car Kris Model Trains Delaware & Hudson Boxcar 'The Bridge Line' #27034 in Tuscan Kris Model Trains Jersey Central Lines #567890 box car Kris Model Trains ATSF Santa Fe box car #7645 Kris Model Trains Buffalo Creek box car #70351 Kris Model Trains Milwaukee Road box bar Kris Model Trains Rock Island RR Route of the Rockets Ship Rocket Freight #22760 box car Kris Model Trains NYC Pacemaker box car #174479 Kris Model Trains Union Pacific #9369 The Challenger Merchandise Service and Overnight Package Delivery box car Kris Model Trains Illinois Central #200156 box car Kris Model Trains Ship It On The Frisco Lines box car Kris Model Trains Grand Trunk Western RR box car Kris Model Trains Canadian National RR box car Kris Model Trains Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway box car Kris Model Trains Lousiville & Nashville Dixie Line box car Kris Model Trains Ontario & Western box car

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.

Kris 'O' gauge Refrigerator Cars
Kris Model Trains #78676 Pacific Fruit Growers Express Reefer Kris Model Trains #76263 Burlington Refrigerator Express Everywhere West Reefer Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge #6100 REX Railway Express Agency Reefer Kris Model Trains Union Pacific RR UP #74586 Insulated Reefer Kris Model Trains Grand Trunk Western GT #516143 refrigerator car Kris Model Trains #70714 Great Northern Refrigerator car Kris Model Trains Glen Uhl Train Shop Refrigerator car Kris Model Trains Rheingold Beer 1970 Mr. Met Calendar Reefer Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge Miller High Life Beer Reefer Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge Schaefer Beer Reefer

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
Kris Model Trains 'S' gauge REA Express Reefer Kris Model Trains 'S' gauge #180764 Santa Fe 3 bay hopper

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 Model Trains #1602 Southern gondola Kris Model Trains #18022 Bessemer & Lake Erie orange gondola Kris Model Trains #265144 Reading gondola Kris Model Trains #5221 Kaiser Bauxite Company Ltd. gondola Kris Model Trains #101 Weyerhaeuser Timber green gondola Kris Model Trains #2551 Chessie System B & O black gondola

Kris was known for producing short runs of custom decorated cars for train clubs 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 Process Company.

Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge Train Collectors Association 40' Box Cars
Kris Model Trains TCA 1971 METCA Train Collectors Anniversary Jersey Central Box Car Kris Model Trains TCA 1972 Pittsburg National Convention Box Car Kris Model Trains TCA 1974 Midwest Division XMWTCA #00001 box car only 200 made Kris Model Trains TCA 1975 Southern Division Florida East Coast RR 'Speedway to America's Playground' box car Kris Model Trains TCA 1977 Houston Convention box car

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 Model Trains Toy Train Operating Society 1973 Disneyland Convention box car Kris Model Trains Toy Train Operating Society Convention Buckeye Division 1977 Columbus, Ohio box car Kris Model Trains #65166 Chicago E.J. & E. RY Outer Belt TTOS 1977 Central Mid-States Division 1977 meet box car Kris Model Trains TTOS 1979 Norteastern Division Niagara Falls Convention box car Kris Model Trains Toy Train Operating Society 1981 San Diego National Convention box car

Kris Model Trains 1970's Boy Scout box car 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
Kris Model Trains Strasburg RR box car Kris Model Trains #528-1145 Choo-Choo Barn box car Kris Model Trains Choo-Choo Barn WK&S the Hawk Mountain Line box car Kris Model Trains Rich's Hobbytowne box car Kris Model Trains A&C Equipment Company Mustang box car Kris Model Trains #754-4444 Amphenol ASD Line Cadre Division box car Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge Big Top Circus box car Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge Xmas 1969 and New Years 1970 box car Kris Model Trains Merry Christmas box bar Kris Model Trains American Revolution Bicentennial box car Kris Model Trains America's Railroads box car

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.

Kris Model Trains Decorated Williams 'O' gauge Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Show Aluminum Passenger Cars

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 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
Kris Model Trains #844 Budweiser Beer Reefrigerated box car Kris Model Trains Schlitz Beer SBX #684 box bar Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge Carling Black Label Beer box car #441849 Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge Heineken Beer #7038 box car Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge #208 Falstaff Beer box car #23158 Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer PBX #747 Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge #219 Ballantine Beer Refrigerated box car

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
Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge Cutty Sark America's #1 Scotch box car Kris Model Trains #6204 Wickes Lumber & Building Supplies box car Kris Model Trains Old Dutch Cleanser box car Kris Model Trains #13760 Kentucky Fried Chicken box car Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge Oscar Mayer EFCX #2190 box car Kris Model Trains Eastman Kodak Company box car

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 #75411 Southern Railway stock car Kris Model Trains Atlantic Coast Line stock car Kris Model Trains #10370 gray Union Pacific stock car Kris Model Trains #10370 yellow Union Pacific stock car Kris Model Trains A&P stock car Kris Model Trains Rock Island stock car Kris Model Trains #9369 yellow Union Pacific stock car Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge Penn Central stock car Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge Wabash stock car #2857 Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge Norfolk & Western stock car Kris Model Trains 'O' gauge Burlington Northern BN #3012 stock car Kris Model Trains Chicago & Northwestern stock car custom painted specifically for Joe Bak and Chicago & Northwestern

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.

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