Are you missing the stainless part that you lifted and turned only? This part (your "furler release knob" aka KNOB) is connected to a pin, the pin has male threads that thread into the KNOBS female threads. There is a coil spring inside the top of the furler that pushes down on this pin, the pin in turn pulls down on the actuator. If the spring is broken I suppose it's possible that the actuator unthreaded itself from the pin, although that sounds pretty far-fetched.
I've had to replace the pin because it would pop out of the interior plate below, with the result the sail would suddenly unfurl as if the KNOB had been lifted and turned. Maybe that's what Bill R. is recalling.
I'm attaching instructions below from another forum member on how to disassemble the top of the furler to access the pin and spring. I still have the drawing I did of the pin for the machine shop that made a new one for me, but they only made the pin, not the actuator. If you need the pin as well, you should check carefully before following the drawing (if indeed you do need a pin) because I made this pin a touch longer than the old one.
I can take some measurements from the actuator on my boat if you like, but we are quite a few years apart. Let me know if you want me to do that.
Best of luck,
To investigate you need to just remove the top part of the furling mechanism.
Given our boats serial numbers are quite close, I would guess our furler is the same as yours. The earlier SM ones are different.
Undo the line that holds the tack of the genoa onto the furler.
There are two large bolts with dome nuts...the bolts are actually studs threaded into the casting. Undo and take off the large nuts.
Then there are four hex head bolts, two on each side which you need to take out.
The two halves of the top of the furler (one with the clutch pin) can now be taken off - it may need a little persuading with a soft hammer and jiggling the foil a bit.
Then you will see the pin from the inside and you will see the plate with the two slots in it.
The clutch pin should move freely but be quite hard to pull up against the spring...if it's easy and doesn't retract strongly, then the spring is broken. The clutch pin has two parts. The inner part has a screw slot and it unscrews from the outer part - between the two is a collet and the spring. You may need an impact wrench to unscrew this - I did.
Once you've done that it will be clear what needs repairing and whether you need to do more dismantling.