Essex turned the screw on Gloucestershire at Bristol with Greg Smith finishing on a career-best 177 as they made 400 before leaving the hosts struggling to avoid the follow-on.
Rain washed out 25 overs of the day, but there was still enough time for Essex to reduce Gloucestershire to 211-9 by the close, with them still needing a further 40 to avoid following on.
When play eventually started for good at 1.50pm, Monty Panesar hit a breezy 22 to add 42 with Smith, who went past his previous best first class score of 165 not out, made for Derbyshire against Glamorgan at Derby in 2010.
Smith was eventually last man out having batted for nearly seven hours, facing 303 balls and hitting 21fours and a six.
Chris Dent (eight), Klinger (13) and Gareth Roderick (10) all fell in the first 11 overs of the home side's reply, Graham Napier (4-72) taking two of the wickets and Reece Topley (3-68) one.
With Gloucestershire struggling at 41-3 in their reply, a century stand between Alex Gidman (63) and Hamish Marshall (54) helped to steady their ship.
Gidman became the first Gloucestershire player to pass 1,000 first class runs for the season shortly after reaching a half-century off 72 balls, but both he and Marshall had to ride their luck in adding 101 in 24 overs.
Their partnership ended on 142 when Gidman had his middle stump uprooted by Ryan ten Doeschate, having hit 11 fours. Benny Howell was then run out for 11 by Topley's sharp throw from midwicket after calling Marshall for a quick single.
Marshall was dropped twice in the slips by Owais Shah and Gautam Gambhir on 44 and reached his half-century off 86 balls, with eight fours, before getting a sharp delivery from Topley and edging a catch to wicketkeeper James Foster.
Smith followed, edging to Shah at first slip off Napier, and Gloucestershire were 172-7, still 79 runs away from avoiding the follow-on.
Four runs later Will Gidman was caught behind off a lifting delivery from Topley and Payne was yorked by Napier for a duck before a flurry of boundaries from Craig Miles (25 not out) brought the home side a welcome batting point.