Tom Westley and Ravi Bopara both scored half-centuries as Essex dominated a rain-affected day's play against Gloucestershire.
Only 44.5 overs were played on the third day of the division two match, during which the home side moved from 30-2 to 177-3 in reply to the visitors' 409-5 declared.
Bopara made 64 after sharing in a century stand with opener Westley, who was unbeaten at the close, 18 runs of his second hundred of the season having taken one off the Cambridge UCCE attack last week.
The Essex pair were made to wait, though, before they could make inroads into the Gloucestershire total, with play only getting under way at 2.55pm.
However, both batsmen were soon gathering runs on a benign pitch and moving the home total into three figures - brought up courtesy of a superb straight drive from Bopara off David Payne in the 27th over.
The impressive Westley reached his half-century from his 81st delivery with his 10th boundary, a punishing on-drive off medium paceman Benny Howell and Bopara followed suit soon after with a neat flick off his legs from Payne.
The visitors made their only a breakthrough of the day when Howell trapped Bopara lbw to end a stand that had produced 116 runs.
Another stoppage for bad light ended the day's play with Westley on 82 and Mark Pettini on 18 and Essex trailing by 232 with the game drifting towards a draw.