Meet the Inventor – Fred Silva

Inventor of the original dovetailed trench plate lifting tool patented in 1981.

Fred Silva was born knowing how to work.  He was born in 1924 on a ranch near Oro Fino, in Northern California.   With no modern conveniences or much money, the eldest boy of 6 children learned how to make the most of what little he had.  He was always tinkering and repairing and improving the tools he had to work with.  During the Great Depression, bad conditions turned worse.  His family lost the ranch, splitting up the family.  His dad went one way to find work; his mom took the rest of the kids to live with relatives in Sparks, Nevada.  Fred stayed behind, although still a boy, and worked as a hired hand on a neighboring ranch.  Through sheer determination he managed to complete high school while working very long hours on the ranch for little or no pay.   He eventually rejoined his family in Nevada.

As soon as he was 18 he joined the Navy and spent most of WWII on a destroyer, another opportunity for hard and dangerous work.  After the war he settled in Berkley, CA with his new wife and began his working career.  He spent time as a truck driver and as a laborer for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E).  Fred was digging ditches and trenches and operating backhoes, doing utility repair work.  There was no easy or safe way to handle the heavy steel trench plates used in utility work.  His inventive mind started to churn.  He drew on his experiences working with tools on the ranches and in the Navy.  He came up with an idea for the safe dovetailed lifting tool that was to become Lock-N-Lift’s first prototype.

As soon as he retired in the early 1970’s, he went to work in his garage experimenting with models crafted from wood.  He partnered with another retired PG&E employee and they tested their designs in steel.  They were granted their first Patent in 1981 for the first dovetail style, quick release Locking and Lifting tool – the model 500.  Believing that non-threaded lifting tools were the safest, easiest and most reliable hoisting tools, Fred continued his experimenting to improve upon his original design.  With his brother now as partner, the 3-piece model 750 was patented in 1984 and the 2-piece model 800 was first used in 1989 and patented in 2000.

Through strictly word of mouth advertising and proven performance, the Lock-N-Lift Company grew into a sizable business in the years since its introduction.  In 2009, at the age of 85 and after the death of his partner, Fred and his daughter Debbie decided to sell the company.  Fred hopes that the new owners will introduce the world to the safety and reliability of his Lock-N-Lift tools.


Happy Birthday, Fred!  Fred turned 91 in January 2015
Fred Silva, Inventor of Lock-n-Lift LLC